People with various kinds of disabilities under the umbrella of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) have mandated the leadership of the association to implement the disability law.
The disability law makes provision for specific needs for lawyers with special disabilities and provided all structures for them. The law also provides a structure accessible for disabilities including free education for their children, free medical care and checkups as and when due.
This was discussed in one of the breakout sessions titled “Lawyers with Disabilities: Strategies for Achieving Inclusiveness and Equality” at the 62nd Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association which held at Eko Atlantic City, Victoria Island, Lagos.
One of the panelists, Patience Etumudon who is the Secretary, Nigerian Lawyers with Disability Forum said that the law needs to be implemented by the NBA, so that lawyers with various kinds of disabilities can enjoy their lives and stay on earth.
Another panelist at the session, the President of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Mrs Amina Suzanah Agbaje said that she has used the opportunity she has to advocate for the rights of lawyers with disabilities especially women and thus called for the inclusion of disabled lawyers in court rooms and proceedings.
Suzanah also noted that she had visited the DG’s of all law schools to ensure that disabled lawyers are treated equally with the able ones. She also noted that there is a national conference coming up by December for all lawyers with Disabilities.
A Legal Practitioner and Disability Rights Advocate, Tobiloba Ajayi highlighted the strategies needed for achieving inclusiveness and equality such as removal of barriers, having equal rights, provision of sign interpreters in courts, having equal access to structures.
Daniel Onwe, President , Association of Lawyers with Disability in Nigeria gave a detailed explanation on Inclusiveness. He said: ‘Inclusiveness is about openness of mind; knowing that there are others doing something different from yours and making provisions for it’.
Onwe further said that, making conference accessible for lawyers with Disabilities, legal training, accessing the legal library equally in law schools, can be a standout strategy for achieving Inclusiveness and Equality.
The panelists recommended that lawyers with various disabilities including mental health disability must be included in every aspect. They noted that empowering Disabilities Forum, having a committee catering for special people and replicating the committee in all branches and electing a lawyer with a Disability into the leadership team will be a “bold transition” and bring about Equality and Inclusiveness of lawyers with Disabilities.