Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
People living With Disabilities (PWDs) have threatened to take the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court for alleged exclusion of their members in the electoral process in the June 18 governorship election in Ekiti State.
Addressing journalists in Ado Ekiti, the state capital, yesterday after presenting a report if its findings about the impending poll, the Executive Director, Centre for Citizens’ Living With Disabilities (CCLWD), Dr. David Anyaele, said the National Disability Law has mandated INEC to provide materials for inclusion of PWDs in all elections.
Anyaele said every attempt to prevent members of the group from voting due to INEC’s laxity would be challenged in court, saying such would amount to a breach of the law signed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
On the issue of security, Anyaele posited that the PWDs are deeply worried due to persistent cases of thuggery during election, urging INEC to partner the police and other security agencies to checkmate the ugly scenario.
According to him, “Up to now, we learnt that INEC has not made some materials ready to sensitise the PWDs, particularly the form EC40H. It is also the duty of the commission to allow the deaf to bring sign specialists to polling units for proper voting. To resolve this, there must be disability desk officers across all the polling units.
“The reason we are here is to hold INEC into account. It is no longer a charity for INEC to provide enabling environment for PWDs to vote. Before, INEC may provide materials for PWDs to participate, but the law
has changed it to INEC shall do it.
“We are here to observe INEC compliance, and any failure, we are going to use every legal instrument to compel INEC to comply. It is not about Ekiti State alone, but we are also going to impress that in Osun State.”
On the issue of vote buying, where the PWDs are more susceptible, Anyaele said: “We are telling our people to refrain from the act of vote buying and selling. We are going to roll out jingles a week to the election that our members shouldn’t engage in such because of economic deprivation.
“People can’t be mortgaging their future or trivialise the electoral system by selling their votes. Bad governance affects everybody, including the PWDs, so it is necessary that we stay away from such evil,” he advised.
In the report presented by the Centre’s Research Officer, Mr. Humphrey Ukeaja, it was revealed that 95 percent of PWDs in Ekiti State are ready to vote, saying 80 percent of them already procured their Permanent Voter Cards(PVCs).