Campaigners urge Nigeria to finalise landmark disability treaty


By Palma Ileye

Disability rights campaigners in Nigeria have urged the Government to take the final step to ensure a new disability treaty was legally adopted.

According to a press release issued yesterday by Sightsavers, Communication Associate, Joy Tarbo, the Nigerian Government formally ratified the African Disability Protocol, ADP, on Thursday, 19 October, which means it now needs to be ‘deposited’ or registered with the African Union.

The statement disclosed that once this has happened, the protocol will have been officially adopted by Nigeria.

It stated that the protocol was the first legally binding treaty to protect the rights of people with disabilities across Africa and address uniquely African issues around disability discrimination.

Revealing the it was adopted in 2018 by the African Union, but for it to come into force across the continent at least 15 Member States must ratify it.

It also stated that Nigeria’s ratification makes it the tenth country to do so noting that the ratification follows years of advocacy from national disability campaigners, supported by development organisation Sightsavers.

Nigeria’s Country Director for Sightsavers, Dr Sunday Isiyaku said: “We are delighted that this treaty was ratified by the Federal Government. It is a critical step forward in protecting the rights and dignity of people with disabilities in Nigeria and, we hope, across Africa. We commend the government for their efforts so far towards ensuring disability rights but urge them to take the final steps to make this important protocol official. The finishing line is in sight.”

Also, Abdullahi Aliyu Usman, President of JONAPWD, said: “This is a historic moment for Nigeria and for people with disabilities across Africa. The ratification of the African Disability Protocol by the Nigerian government demonstrates a commitment to promoting the rights of people with disabilities and ensuring that they are included and valued members of society.”

Meanwhile, Mr James Lalu, Executive Secretary, National Commission for Persons with Disability, added: “The ADP is a vital instrument in tackling discrimination and inequality, and improving the lives of millions of people with disabilities. We are now counting on other countries to follow suit and ratify the ADP. We must all work together to create a safer, more accessible Africa.”

According to the statement, the ADP was adopted by the African Union in 2018, to build on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, CRPD.

It explained that, “Although the UNCRPD already guarantees all people with disabilities their human rights on an equal basis with others, many people with disabilities living in African countries face specific forms of discrimination. This includes stigma towards people with albinism, superstitions, witchcraft and traditional beliefs about disability as a curse from God. The ADP explicitly addresses these issues.”

Furthermore, through its Equal World campaign, Sightsavers is working with the African Union and the African Disability Forum to call on African Governments to ratify the ADP.

The statement further informed that the disability campaigners in these countries were asking their Governments to join Nigeria and make the treaty legally binding.