IFA’s Executive Director, Grace Jerry, and Convener of Access Nigeria Campaign said this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja, saying that the measure would serve as a deterrent for other citizens.
Jerry said that the group deployed observers to monitor the Ekiti governorship election under its Access Nigeria: Disability Votes Matter Campaign, a disability rights movement led by the Inclusive Friends Association (IFA) for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs).
She said that the Access Nigeria Campaign observed reported cases of voting buying in some polling units.
She said that generally, the election went well but there were some hindrances to the participation of PWDs in the election.
She said although the routes leading to polling units were accessible there were neither ramps nor handrails for use by PWDs outside most of the polling units.
“Access Nigeria Observers reported that most polling units in Ekiti State were located in public buildings, schools, town halls, open spaces, front popular junctions, or private houses.“It was difficult for voters with disabilities to enter the polling units to participate in accreditation and voting.” This was largely due to barriers like corridors and steps. Similarly, the location of the ballot boxes made it difficult for voters with disabilities to participate independently.“The height of the ballot box was not suitable for voters with disabilities, particularly for those who used wheelchairs at most polling units observed,” she said.
Jerry added: “Form EC 40H was available at all polling units observed by the Access Nigeria Observers to collect data on voters with disabilities who voted on Election Day.
“However, the usability of the form by Polling Officials was not effective.”
She said that based on the findings of the group, some recommendations to ensure voters with disabilities continued to participate in Nigeria’s political and electoral processes were made.
She said that the Access Nigeria campaign called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that newly created polling units were accessible to PWDs and to relocate previously created inaccessible polling units.
She added that INEC should also strengthen regular and ad hoc staff training to effectively administer accessible Election Day materials and accommodations for voters with disabilities.
She also urged INEC to continue to engage and consult with the disability community, including IFA, to identify areas to be improved for more inclusive electoral processes.
“The Access Nigeria Campaign calls on the federal and state governments to work with various agencies and the private sector to ensure that public buildings are built and renovated by the 2023 deadline.“This is to accommodate PWDs in their daily life following the provisions of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act of 2018,” she said.
Jerry urged the National Assembly to ensure that the executive implemented specific sections of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disability Act 2018 through effective legislative oversight.
She urged the National Assembly to also perform its oversight functions of INEC to ensure that all measures for accessibility are implemented in line with the Discrimination Against Persons with Disability Act 2018.
She called on media executives to consider disability inclusion in their broadcast and news production to promote inclusive practices in Nigeria including the consistent utilization of sign language interpretation.
She also urged the media to conduct voter education to complement the efforts of others organizations in promoting the participation of PWDs in Nigeria’s electoral and political processes.