According to the 2006 Population and Housing Census the total population of Nigeria was 140 431 790.1
The methodology used to obtain statistical data on the prevalence of disability in Nigeria was through field interview (National Census).2
The total number of people with disabilities in Nigeria according to the 2006 Census were 3 253 169 and the percentage is approximately 2.32 per cent.3
The total number of women with disabilities in Nigeria in line with the 2006 Census is 1 544 418 and the percentage is 1.1 per cent.4
According to the 2006 Census the total number of children with disabilities in Nigeria is 1 002 062 and the percentage is 0.71 per cent.5
(5) communication impairment.6
Nigeria signed and ratified both the Convention and its Optional Protocol on 30 March 2007 and 24 September 20107 respectively.
The Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development is responsible for the submission of Nigeria’s country report. Nigeria’s Report was due by May 2012. The delay was caused by lengthy national processes.
Nigeria’s fourth periodic report8 (the report) on human rights incidences and interventions to the Committee on the ACHPR did not report specifically on the rights of persons with disabilities. The report made reference to the constitutional, administrative and judicial measures adopted towards the protection of the family and rights of women, children, the aged and the disabled, to the extent that government directs its policies towards ensuring that suitable and adequate shelter, food and welfare of the disabled and other citizens are provided.
The Nigeria report on the status of implementation of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC)9 did not mention the right of persons with disabilities.
The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development while presenting the Nigeria Country Report10 did not specifically report on the rights of persons with disabilities.
Nigeria in its sixth periodic report in 2008 did not report specifically on the rights of persons with disabilities.11
Nigeria’s UPR took place on 9 February 2009.12 During the session, no mention was made of disability rights except that Nigeria has ratified the Optional Protocol to the CRPD.
After ratifying the ACHPR, the ACRWC, and the CRC, they were incorporated into Nigerian legislation through an Act of the National Assembly (the legislature) in line with the Nigerian Constitution.13 The Constitution states that no treaty between the federation and any other country shall have the force of law except to the extent to which any such treaty has been enacted into law by the National Assembly. Consequently, the ACHPR was adopted in its entirety as part of Nigerian law by the (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria. Since then, Nigeria has since, progressively been implementing the ACHPR through Chapter 2 and 4 of the Constitution and through other government ministries, commissions and organisations. Moreover, there is the Child’s Right Act which has been adopted by the 22 states of the Federation. States that have passed the Child Right Act have been encouraged to develop mechanisms for the effective implementation of the legislation in their domains. Nigeria has through this Act mainstreamed the provisions of the CRC. Nigeria has yet to domesticate the CEDAW.
The ACHPR was incorporated in its entirety into Nigerian legislation. The Amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in chapter II and IV make provision for socio economic rights and civil and political rights14 respectively. These provisions essentially conform to the provisions in the ACHPR. However, the chapter II group of rights are rendered non justiciable15 under the Nigerian Constitution and cannot expressly be determined by any court of law in Nigeria. Nigeria has also mainstreamed the CRC.
Some legislation on disability can be found in some states16 in Nigeria
The issuance of guidelines for the education, social development and welfare of persons living with disability; investigation, prosecution and sanctioning in appropriate cases the violation of any of the provisions of the law subject to an individual’s right to seek redress in court; re-orientation and education of the public on the right attitude towards persons living with disabilities; issuance of directives and guidelines on all manner of disabilities, preventive or curative exercises; actualising the enjoyment of all rights in the law by persons living with disabilities; keeping and updating a register and database of persons living with disabilities; and an advocacy and enlightenment campaign drive targeted at members of the public on ways to empathise with persons living with disabilities.
The law also establishes a Disability Fund, which shall be administered by the office and to which individuals, corporate bodies and government may make contributions. As settled in the law, the purpose of the Fund is to advance the cause of persons living with disability in the state.
It states that children are entitled to freedom from discrimination on the grounds of belonging to a particular community or ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion, the circumstances of birth, disability, deprivation or political opinion.Further, it provides categorically that the dignity of the child shall be respected at all times. The Act specifies that children in need of special protection measures should be protected in a manner that will enable them to achieve their fullest, possible social integration.
Generally, after researching the same, I was not able to find any Nigerian case or decision relating to a disability issue or issues.17
The Nigerian National Policy on Education,20 recognises that children and young persons with special needs shall be provided with inclusive education services.
The Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) is the official body in Nigeria that specifically addresses the violation of the rights of people with disabilities. The Executive Council of JONAPWD acts as a conduit between the Nigerian government and persons with disabilities in order to promote the rights of persons with disabilities. JONAPWD protects persons with disabilities by reporting any form of inhuman treatment they are subjected to, to the government. It has been able to establish partnership with other mainstream human rights organisations, like Action Aid Nigeria, coalition for change and PACT Nigeria. However, it has been argued that JONAPWD does not have the capacity to become an effective rights-based advocacy body as a result of the absence of a strategic plan including an obvious lack of transparency.21
The Association of Comprehensive Empowerment of Nigerians with Disabilities (ASCEND) started as a movement for the empowerment of Nigerians with disabilities. It is a platform for all Nigerians with disabilities to come together and speak with one voice.22 ASCEND is more or less a socio-political group with the objective aim of integrating persons with disabilities in society generally, and in politics in particular.23
Nigeria has a National Human Rights Commission. One of the functions and powers of the Human Rights Commission is to deal with all matters relating to the protection of human rights as guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution, the ACHPR, United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other International treaties on human rights to which Nigeria is a signatory.
Furthermore, the National Human Rights Commission has addressed issues relating to the rights of persons with disabilities in Nigeria in the following ways: it has created the office of a special rapporteur as well as a program officer on persons with disabilities. This is a way to integrate disability issues into the National Human Rights Commission’s work and to have a desk responsible for disability concerns.24
The Nigerian Human Rights Commission also conducted a survey to support facilities in tertiary institutions aimed at assisting persons with disabilities to enjoy inclusive education. It was found that few tertiary institutions in Nigeria have basic facilities like ramps, lifts with sound and brailed floor numbering to assist persons with disabilities. It has also planned workshop and advocacy visits for institutions to improve access to persons with disabilities. The National Human Rights Commission has provided ramps and lifts with sound and brailed floor numbering in its head office at Abuja, Nigeria.
In addition to the JONAPWD and the ASCEND, mentioned in 7.1 & 7.2 above which are the national umbrella bodies, there is a multiplicity of other DPOs working at a national, state and local level. Most of these organisations cater for the needs of single impairment groups:
Admittedly and according to Lang,25 disability organisations in Nigeria are weak and are always in conflict with each other. This does not allow them to communicate with one unifying voice in effectively advocating for their rights.
Though the CRPD has not been domesticated in Nigeria, the Ministry of Women Affairs try to partner with DPOs through focus group discussions on issues concerning them with respect to policies, programmes and operational modalities that will make for effective social inclusion of persons with disabilities in society. Furthermore, the government has also provided disability desks in each of the 774 local government areas and at the office of the National Commission on Human Rights.
The introduction of the Disability Bill in the National Assembly in order to secure disability rights is an example of a specific outcome in recognising the rights of persons with disabilities. Furthermore, disability legislation has been enacted in some states of the Federation with disability advisors and desks provided.
In the area of teacher training and funding of schools, a lot of capacity building and support is required. DPOs need to be sensitised to the dangers of adopting the welfare approach to disability as this will further perpetuate their exclusion from society. The greatest challenges DPOs face is the non-existence of any structure to apply and implement a rights based approach to disability issues.
The government department responsible for promoting and protecting the rights and welfare of persons with disabilities in Nigeria is the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.26
The Ministry provides some basic rehabilitation services. They also organise seminars and workshops for persons with disabilities. The Ministry is also responsible for the formulation of policies and programmes for persons with disabilities.
There are deep-seated negative social attitudes and perceptions of persons with disabilities, who deserve compassion and concern. Ritual killing of people with albinism also occurs.There is no comprehensive legislation on disability and a non-homogenous disability movement.
Most public buildings in Nigeria are not accessible to persons with disabilities. Only very few tertiary institutions and government offices have rams, lifts with sound and floors with brail numbering.
The number of persons with disabilities in mainstream schools is dismally low. They are usually kept in special schools and are prevented from having close interaction with other pupils and the community at large.
Nonetheless, one positive factor relates to education, vocational training and health care. A number of national and international non governmental organisations (NGOs)27 are working within the disability sector to provide vocational training which will focus on computer technologies and ICT,28 care giving projects and inclusive education.
There are no policies or programmes to enable persons with disabilities to gain full or even part time employment. Efforts to provide financial independence come largely from NGOs.29
There is a Legal Aid Office attached to the Ministry of Justice that renders pro bono legal services to persons with disabilities who cannot afford to live on less than one dollar per day. Another organisation, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), also provides access to justice for persons with disabilities by offering pro bono services.
They are highly vulnerable and bear a disproportionate burden of caring for other persons with disabilities. In the majority of cases they find it very difficult to get married as a result of their disability, and are usually raped and abandoned. These women also suffer stigmatisation.
Children are more vulnerable as they are entitled to care by parents and the community. Unfortunately children with disabilities are usually stigmatised and hidden away from public view, and as a result they do not have access to inclusive education and so do not have the opportunity of interacting with other children. This leads to low self-worth and great disempowerment.
At the moment, there is a National Social Welfare Policy to take care of the developmental needs of persons with disabilities, orphans and vulnerable children, as well as the elderly within society.30 It is on the verge of being developed and has attracted a lot of attention and workshops.
1. Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette, No 2 Abuja, 2 February 2009, Vol 96, National population commission Census Priority Table: 2006 Population distribution by, sex and class size of householdstate and local government area table HH (ADD 1), Vol IX, April 2010.
6. ‘Interview source from Mrs Comfort Nnaji, principal planning officer, ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development Imo State Nigeria’: CC Opara, Principal Assistant Social Welfare Officer I, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development Imo State.
7. Consolidated disability findings from the 2010 US State Department Country Reports on Human Rights practices http://www.usicd.org/doc/africa_disability_references1.pdf (accessed 15 April, 2013); http://www.un.org/en/rights/html (accessed 15 April 2013); E-mail communication from Prof O Nnamdi on 19 April 2013.
14. The chapter 11 group of rights is referred to as the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of state policy, while the chapter IV group of rights is referred to as Fundamental Rights. See sections 13-24 and 33-46 of the Amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
16. The Edo State House of Assembly is currently considering a bill, to enact into law, to make provisions for the establishment of a commission for persons with disabilities. http://www.lagosstate.gov.ng/entities.php?k=207 (accessed 26 September 2013).
18. J Xinhua ‘Nigeria develops policy on integration of disabled persons’ 29 February 2010 http://www.englishpeopledaily.com.cn/00001/90777/90855/7045385.html (accessed 10 April, 2013).
19. http://allafrica.com/stories/201202090857.html (accessed 26 September 2013).
29. Xinhua (n 18 above) 24. LCD is working in Lagos, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Imo and Enugu States and has trained a number of teachers in mainstream schools on the inclusive education approach as against the integration approach which they are used to. The CBM is also piloting community-based rehabilitation programmes in some states in Nigeria.