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National Assembly agree jail term for physically-challenged beggars

The two chambers of the National Assembly have prescribed a six-month jail term, among other punishments, for anyone caught using a person living with disability to solicit for alms in public.
The jail term is among other provisions contained in the harmonised bill, jointly passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives last week. The document is currently being fine-tuned for presentation to President Goodluck Jonathan.
The bill is titled, “A Bill for an Act to ensure full integration of persons with disabilities into the society and to establish a National Commission for Persons with Disabilities and vest it with the responsibility for their education, health care and the protection of their social, economic, civil rights (establishment, etc) Bill 2014.”
The National Commission for Persons with Disabilities to be established will be headed by a physically- challenged person, as chairman.

A copy of the harmonised version of the bill obtained by our correspondent on Thursday showed that anyone or group of people who employed or involved a disabled person in alms begging risked either a six – month imprisonment, a fine of N100, 000, or both.
The bill also forbids anyone from segregating or isolating people with disabilities except strictly on health grounds or in accordance with the provisions of the constitution of Nigeria.
Part 9, Clause 21 of the bill states, “Except on medical grounds, or in accordance with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a person with disability shall not be isolated or segregated from the community or compelled to live in a particular area.”
The bill also makes it mandatory for all public schools, whether primary, secondary or tertiary, to have trained personnel and special facilities for effective education of persons with disabilities in order to make education accessible to them.
“Braille, sign language and other skills for communicating with persons with disabilities shall form part of the curricula of primary, secondary and tertiary institutions,” it states.
The bill, apart from prescribing free education at all levels for persons with disabilities, also provides for government to ensure that all persons with disabilities enjoy free health care services, employment, accommodation and equal access to all social amenities.
The Executive Director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, Mr. David Anyaele, in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Thursday, pleaded with Jonathan to sign the bill into law.
He noted that Jonathan’s assent to the bill was essential at this period when the disturbing incidents of insurgency in the North had led to an increment in the numbers of persons living with disabilities in the country.
About 22 million persons are said to be living with disabilities in the country.
Anyaele added that the establishment of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities would afford them the opportunity to claim their rights in the country.
He said, “The challenge and when we can start claiming these rights now depends on how soon the President prioritise the plight of all persons with disabilities and assent to the bill.
“Signing the bill now is even more important than election campaign. By so doing, the President will be sending a clear message that the plight and suffering of persons living with disabilities is a priority to him.”
National Assembly agree jail term for physically-challenged beggars Reviewed by Jisieike Samuel on November 07, 2014 Rating: 5

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