NASS approves jail term for fraudulent use of disability to solicit alms

By The Citizen

The two chambers of the National Assembly have prescribed a six-month jail term, among other punishments, for anyone or groups of people who are caught using a disabled person to beg for alms in public.

The punishment was among other provisions contained in the harmonised bill, jointly passed by the Senate and House of Representatives last week, which is currently being fine-tuned for presentation to President Goodluck Jonathan.

The bill specifically seeks to ensure full integration of persons with disabilities into the society and to establish a National Commission for Persons with Disabilities,  to be headed by a physically challenged person as chairman.

A copy of the  harmonised version of the bill obtained by our correspondent on Thursday showed that anyone or group of people who employ or involve a disabled person in alms begging risked either a six - month imprisonment, a fine of N100,000, or both.

The bill, also forbids anyone from segregating or isolating people with disabilities except strictly on health grounds or in accordance with the provisions of the constitution of Nigeria.

Part 9, Clause 21 of the bill states that, 'Except on medical grounds, or in accordance with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a person with disability shall not be isolated or segregated from the community or compelled to live in a particular area.'

The bill also made it mandatory for all public schools, whether primary, secondary or tertiary to have trained personnel and special facilities for the effective education of persons with disabilities in order to make education accessible to them.

It added that 'Braille,  sign language and other skills for communicating with persons with disabilities shall form part of the curricula of primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.'

The bill, apart from prescribing free education at all levels for the disabled,  also provides for government to ensure that all persons with disabilities enjoy free health care services, employment, accommodation and equal access to all social amenities. – Punch.