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Ekiti Guber: Persons With Disabilities Vow to Sue INEC if…

By: Gloria Ogbu

Ahead of the June 18 gubernatorial election in Ekiti State, Persons With Disabilities, PWDs, have clamoured for inclusiveness in the electoral process saying anything short of such may attract legal action.

The PWDs are demanding that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and other stakeholders create accessible voting points and necessary facilities that would ensure their improved participation in the electioneering process seamlessly.

This submission is the outcome of a report by the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, taged “Pre Election Assessment of Independent National Electoral Commission preparedness for Persons with Disabilities Participation for June 18 governorship election.

Speaking with newsmen after the presentation,  the Executive Director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, Dr. David Anyaele explained that the request of the group for inclusion was already a matter of law hence it must be obeyed so as not to disefranchise the special persons.

According to David Obinna Anyaele, the  research was done to ascertain INEC’s preparedness in carrying along PWDs and ensure their security throughout the electoral process.

He charged INEC to collaborate with the security agents to ensure a credible election devoid of malpractice and hitch free.

He said: “The key reason for the research is to hold INEC accountable, urging them to train PWDs on their rights and make them understand the provision of the law which will better shape their participation in election.

“INEC should collaborate with the security agencies to reassure electorate of their safety and security, to down tension and brace up security challenges especially in some flashpoints to ensure accessible, credible, free, fair, and peaceful election.

“They should also provide Disability Desk officers at each INEC LGA offices and this position should be held by a PWD.

“INEC should also provide Umbrellas and shades for albinos or allow them vote early as 8am to avoid them being under the sun and prone to skin cancer.”

Anyaele also discouraged PWDs from being involved in vote buying and vote selling noting that it’s their civic responsibility to vote a candidate of their choice.

“Poverty is not particular with PWDs alone, but I urge you to not sell your votes because of money. It is our responsibility to discourage any form of vote buying and selling.

“It is everybody’s responsibility not just PWDs because poverty does not discriminate, as it hits PWDs, it also hit persons without disability.”

Others who spoke at the programme, including the Chairman, Joint National Association of Persons Living with Disabilities, JONAPWD, Kayode Owolabi urged INEC to take bold steps to improve their communication between them and JONAPWD, as there is an obvious disconnect and lack of proper engagement between both parties.

Make election materials and facilities accessible for all PWDs. This includes Form EC40H, polling units, and assistive resources such as sign language interpreters, tactile ballot jackets, and magnifying lenses,

Other recommendations include the need to train polling stations officials adequately to understand and respond to PWD needs, Sensitize the public on the needs and challenges of PWDs to reverse negative public perceptions and attitudes towards them.

“INEC should collaborate with the security agencies to reassure electorate of their safety and security, to down tension and brace up security challenges especially in some flashpoints to ensure accessible, credible, free, fair, and peaceful election.

Provide Disability Desk officers at each INEC LGA offices and this position should be held by a PWD.

Provide Umbrellas and shades for albinos or allow them vote early as 8am to avoid them being under the sun and prone to skin cancer.

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