As the world marks the 2023 International Day of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), human rights lawyer, Prof. Mike Ozekhome SAN, has recommended for the strict enforcement of relevant laws criminalizing the discrimination of PWDs.

Ozekhome made the recommendation while speaking as the guest lecturer at the 12th Rights Above Charity Lecture on Sunday, in Benin City, the Edo State capital, with the theme “Building Inclusion, Access and Equity to Safeguard the Place of Persons With Disabilities in Nigeria’s Public and Political Space”.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, at the event organized by the Network for the Advancement of Persons With Visible Disabilities (NAPVID), also recommended severe sanctions for public and private institutions that fail to accord PWDs special treatment as provided for by laws.

According to him, the country’s security agents should be thoroughly trained to be able to detect cases of exploitation and abuse of persons with disabilities in schools and at home.

“Where it is observed that the rights of the PWDs are infringed, individuals in their community should take it as a responsibility to report such cases to the appropriate authorities for swift action,” the constitutional lawyer further recommended.

NAPVID’s executive director, Melody Omosah Esq, called for commitment of stakeholders towards the realization of inclusivity as an inherent part of the society.

Omosah, who commended Governor Godwin Obaseki for facilitating the Edo Disability Law 2022, advocated for the establishment of a disability commission to drive the law’s implementation.

Chairperson of the state chapter of Joint National Association of Persons With Disabilities (JONAPWD), Ann Ogiugo, expressed appreciation to Governor Obaseki for the empowerment of PWDs in the state.

Oguigo, who described the Obaseki-led administration as “disability friendly”, commended the various key stakeholders for the realization of the disability law in the state.

At the event, Obaseki was honoured with an award by NAPVID for his contributions towards the overall wellbeing of persons living with disabilities in Edo.

The award was received on his behalf by the Commissioner for Social Development and Gender Issues, Christabel Omoh Ekwu.

NAPVID also launched ‘Resilient Net’ and inaugurated a group, the ‘Edo Disability Forum’ to advocate for the introduction of disability-centred sustainable programme that will address the effects of the petroleum subsidy removal and other economic policies on PWDs in the state.

Chairman of the occasion, Senator Adams Oshiomhole, who was represented by Joseph Ugheoke, made a pledge of N1 million, while Ozekhome donated N500,000 to support the event organizers.

Highpoints of the occasion was the formal unveiling of Edo Disability Law 2022 and handover of one HP laptop and N500,000 each to two law graduates with special needs to support them to law school.