L-r: Miss. Linda Uche, Program Assistant (CCD) and Mr. David Anyaele, Executive Director (CCD) at a press briefing

Mary Ekah

The Centre for Citizens with Disabilities has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct an audit of its processes to identify disability gaps and ensure that Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) are not marginalised in the electoral process.

The Executive Director, CCD, David Anyaele, made the call while briefing newsmen in his office on the outcome of a survey carried out by the organisation to identify the militating and facilitating factors around the ongoing INEC’s Continuous Voters’ Registration (CVR) exercise and eligible Nigerians with Disabilities, across the 20 local government areas in Lagos State.

According to David Anyaele, the disability audit of the processes of the electoral body will help INEC in its planning and budgeting for the just concluded local government election in Lagos State, gubernatorial election in Anambra State, and subsequent elections in the country.

CCD observers reported that INEC registration centres across the 18 local government areas had no sign language interpreters or special attendants for PWD’s coming for the CVR exercise.

It was also observed that INEC officials in 14 L.G.A (70 per cent of 20 LGAs visited), were not capturing PWDs data according to their disability types. Eighteen (18) of the INEC-CRV registration centres visited were located outside INEC offices at Local Government Areas in Lagos, hence, making it difficult for PWDs and even those without disabilities to locate the designated centres.

The assessment shows that 11 out of 20 LGAs ( 55 per cent of the registration centre visited) were characterised by barriers that hinder PWDs access to the centres. These barriers include – gutters, high slabs, unlevelled floors, steps/stairs and heaps of sand.

The electoral body has also failed to fully comply with the Lagos State Special Peoples Law (2010) that provides that special queues be provided for PWDs, as 6 LGAs (30 per cent) did not have separate queues for PWDs at the Centre. Anyaele tasked INEC to organise more sensitisation programmes for Nigerians about the on-going exercise. He also called on INEC to train and re-train its officials on ways to capture and attend to PWDs of different clusters, disability friendly environments as registration centres, as well as to deploy sign language interpreters to the designated centres.

It would be recalled that INEC launched the nationwide Continuous Voters’ Registration exercise on April 27, 2017, aimed at capturing the data of persons who were unable to register during the last voters’ registration exercise and that of individuals that have attained the age of 18; individuals that registered during the last exercise but could not collect the Permanent Voter Card before the 2015 polls are also receiving attention.