On Wednesday, the 23rd of September 2020, the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), met with a delegation from the Association of Lawyers with Disabilities in Nigeria (ALDIN) led by its President, Daniel Onwe to discuss issues affecting members of ALDIN.
Some of the issues raised by ALDIN were the inaccessibility of courts in Nigeria by lawyers with disabilities; discrimination against lawyers with disabilities by most law firms as well as inhumane treatment faced by lawyers with disabilities in court. Also discussed were the absence of sign language interpreters in courts; non-representation of lawyers with disabilities in the NBA and failure of NBA branches to make attendance to branch meetings easy for lawyers living with disabilities.
In his reaction, the NBA President Mr. Olumide Akpata, tendered an unreserved apology on behalf of the Association to all lawyers with disabilities for the neglect historically suffered by them and promised that the NBA will henceforth take steps towards a paradigm shift in the mindset of members of the NBA and the Nigerian populace at large, in their relationship with persons living with disabilities. He also pledged that the NBA will be more sensitive to the needs of not just lawyers with disabilities but also every senior citizen in the NBA.
The President further pledged that the NBA will ensure that the Lawyers with Disabilities Forum (LWDF) gets more active, and promised to introduce an annual event dedicated to the LWDF where issues faced by lawyers with disabilities will be discussed and solutions proffered. Also, in line with his campaign promise to make the NBA more inclusive, the NBA President promised to pursue an amendment of the NBA constitution to ensure that the Chairman and Secretary of the LWDF are made statutory members of the NBA National Executive Committee (NEC).
The NBA President further harped on the need for capacity building and promised to create specifically tailored programmes that would help to shore up the capacity of lawyers living with disabilities in Nigeria.
Dr. Rapulu Nduka
Nigerian Bar Association