June 9, 2023

FOI Counsel Commemorates Int’l Disability Day, Files First Suit at the ECOWAS Court Challenging Discriminations

In commemoration of the world Disability Day, Freedom of Information Counsel, FOI Counsel, has commenced legal action at the Economic Community of West Africa States, ECOWAS, Court seeking declarations against continuing violation of the rights of persons living with disability in Nigeria.

The suit amongst others prays the regional court to declare that failure to reserve at least 5% minimum employment opportunities/job quota for persons with disability, PWDs, during Department of States Service recruitment in 2016, 2018 and 2020 is discriminatory and a violation of United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Protocol to the African Union on Right of Persons with Disability in Africa, the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria and Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2019.

These International instruments have come into force to advance the cause of the persons with disabilities, one key declaration is that disability is not only a development issue but also an issue of human rights. This new framing has set a groundwork for how the experiences for PWDs can be transformed from one of social isolation to a more footing in the area of rights and basic privileges.

At the recruitment of DSS for 2020/2021, it requested that applicants be medically/physically fit for service and specifically mentioned that candidates with orthopedic operations in the past or natural disabilities like stammering and fractures were automatically disqualified. This is discriminatory and a big concern for disability rights in Nigeria, hence our legal intervention”, said President Aigbokan, Convener of FOI Counsel.

The applicant is an NGO registered as Unemployed Youths Initiative since 2012. The group sued Federal Republic of Nigeria, Department of States Service and Federal Character Commission in suit No: ECW/CJ/APP/51/2020. The case of the group amongst others is that 5% employment opportunity for persons with disabilities is in line with both international and national laws and must be respected by any recruiting agency.

According to the Executive Director of the group Comrade Danesi Momoh, persons with disability deserve equal opportunity for equal space for equal work. He added that “we will be one in all things true and also one in hatred of all wrong. Everyone without discrimination has the right to equal space for equal work in Nigeria as PWDs can work in the administration and finance department and even in their operations. We contacted FOI Counsel a specialized public interest litigation platform to assist us to enforce broadly the right of unemployed youths in Nigeria in the context of federal character and disability inclusion”.

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