RESPONSE OF THE NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA TO THE IMPLEMENTATION
OF ARTICLE 33 OF THE CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES.
Article 33(1) provides that state parties shall designate one or more focal points within
government for matters relating to the implementation of the Convention and shall consider
establishment or designation of a coordination mechanism within government to facilitate
action in different sectors and at different levels.
33(2) is to the effect that state parties shall maintain, strengthen, designate, or establish
within the state party a framework to promote, protect and monitor implementation of the
convention. When establishing such a mechanism, state parties shall take into account the
principles relating to status and function of National Human Rights Institutions
33(3) provides that Civil Society, especially Persons with Disabilities and their representative
organizations shall be involved and participate fully in the monitoring process.
1. The Existence, Structure & Mandate of Focal Points within Government
appointed with responsibility for matters related to the implementation
of the Convention:
Over the years, the Federal Government of Nigeria has come up with various initiatives and equally
embarked on activities towards development and implementation of projects and programs which
address concerns and rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Nigeria. At the Federal level, the
Department of Rehabilitation in the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development is
charged with responsibility of coordinating Disability activities, programs and initiatives. Some of the
activities/ initiatives include the following –
a) To ensure that disability issues are on the agenda in all spheres of economic, social and political
b) To ensure maximum access of PWDs to all mainstream facilities and services
c) To promote the coordination of services and avoid unnecessary duplication
d) To develop appropriate disability prevention and rehabilitation programmes nationwide.
e) To prevent discrimination against PWDs in all spheres.
f) To take into account specific need of different disability clusters
g) To increase awareness on disability issues and support national and international advocacy for
This is achieved in collaboration with all Line Ministries and Agencies of Government which include the
Federal Ministry of Health
“ “ “ Education
‘’ ‘’ ‘’ Labor & Productivity
‘’ ‘’ ‘’ Justice
‘’ ‘’ ‘’ Information & National Orientation
‘’ ‘’ ‘’ Works & Housing
‘’ ‘’ ‘’ Transport
‘’ ‘’ ‘’ Communication
National Planning Commission
National Directorate of Employment
National Poverty Eradication Programme
National Human Rights Commission
Que : What resources are available to such focal points in terms of material and human resources.
What is their mandate and how were they established?
Over the years a multi-sectoral approach was adopted by the Federal Government of Nigeria to address
and mainstream disability concerns into National life. The Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs)
MDAs are established by government. Accordingly, the resources for each of these Government MDAs
are normally through yearly budgetary allocation by government besides periodic support from donor
agencies. The human resources are mainly personnel recruited by each MDA based on sectoral
Que : Do Government departments /focal persons work on the basis of work plans? What are the
Each of the government departments /MDAs has periodic work plans in consonance with mandate.
However, there does not appear to be a systematic reporting system or obligation to render periodic
report by these government agencies on respective disability programmes embarked on. When the
Commission on Persons with Disabilities becomes operational, it will assume that role of collating
reports from various MDAs on different Disability Progrmmes carried out sectorally. However, in the just
concluded monitoring of the implementation of the National Action Plan for the Promotion & Protection
of Human Rights in Nigeria(NAP), various MDAs were requested to highlight steps each agency had
taken or plans to take in order to make their environment and facilities Disability friendly. Such info
would enable the National Human Rights Commission to evaluate steps taken in each sector in
furtherance of implementation of the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities as well as
plan further interventions accordingly.
Que: What mechanisms are in place to ensure consultation with persons with disabilities?
PWDs have overtime advocated that they are carried along in all projects that concern them. Infact,
PWDs have a slogan of “nothing for us, without us”. The Joint National Association of Persons with
Disabilities is currently at the front burner of advocacy for inclusion of PWDs in planning and execution
of all programmes that are meant for their benefit. The Association also played a central role during
various stakeholders’ fora to domesticate the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities in
Nigeria. So, currently, unless PWDs are involved in planning and implementation of programmes
beneficial to them, such programmes have slim chances of survival or success.
2. The existence , structure and mandate of coordination mechanisms within government to
facilitate action related to the implementation of the Convention
Nigeria Adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 30th March, 2007
and has subsequently ratified the Convention.
As a follow up, there have been concerted efforts by stakeholders to domesticate the
Convention by legislation. The National Human Rights Commission is at the forefront of this
legislative advocacy/intervention in furtherance of promoting and protection of human rights
and dignity of PWDs in Nigeria. Accordingly, the NHRC made inputs and supported the bill for
“An Act to ensure full integration of Persons with Disabilities in the Society…..” before
parliament. This bill has been passed into law by the legislature and is currently awaiting
Presidential Assent. One crucial Component of the bill is that it provides for the Establishment of
a National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, with head quarters in Abuja and operational
offices in each state of the Federation.
When established, the Governing Council of the Commission which will conduct and coordinate
its affairs shall consist of a full time Chair Person, who shall be a qualified PWD and
a) Federal Ministry of Health
b) Federal Ministry of Education
c) Federal Ministry of Women Affairs & Social Development
d) Federal Ministry of Labour & Productivity
e) Federal Ministry of Justice
f) National Planning Commission
g) National Human Rights Commission
h) Qualified PWDs from respective geo-political zones.
It is remarkable that the overall essence for establishment of a National Commission for Persons
with Disabilities in Nigeria is to scale up and facilitate actions related to the implementation of
the Convention. With a PWD as Chair of the Governing Council, and with representation by
qualified PWDs from various geo-political zones of the country, PWDs would definitely affect
decisions and implementation of the Commission’s programmes in furtherance of the
More so, The National Human Rights Commission has created the Office of a Special Rapporteur
on Persons with Disabilities, as well as a Program Officer on Persons with Disabilities. This is in a
bid to mainstream disability matters into NHRC’s work and to have a Desk responsible for
Inorder to monitor the right to education of persons with disabilities, the NHRC conducted a
survey of support facilities in tertiary institutions aimed at assisting person with disabilities to
enjoy equal access to education like others. It was found out that few Tertiary institutions in
Nigeria have basic facilities like ramps, lifts with sound and brailed floor numbering to assist
persons with disabilities. Also most public institutions monitored show that few have facilities
for improved by access to persons with disabilities. Workshops and advocacy visits are planned
for public institutions to improve access to persons with disabilities in line with the law on
Disabilities passed by the parliament. To take the lead for public Institutions, the NHRC has
provided ramps and lifts with brailed floor numbering and sound in its head office building in
3. The existence , structure, and mandate of national frameworks tasked with promoting,
protecting, and monitoring implementation of the Convention with particular reference to
the role and functions of National Human Rights Institutions in such frameworks:
The PWD Commission shall be a National Framework tasked with promoting, protecting and
monitoring implementation of the Convention.
In furtherance of its mandate, National Human Rights Commission shall also play
complementary roles to the Disability Commission in furtherance of investigating alleged
violations against PWDs as well as promoting and protecting their human rights
Like the NHRC, the Disability Convention ought to have offices across the federation. It shall also
have powers to recruit its staff, especially qualified PWDs
A wide consultative process was embarked on and inputs collated from various stakeholders at
different fora while articulating the Disability bill wherein establishment of the Disability
Commission was provided for.
Various Civil Society Organizations as well as Disability –focused NGOs were involved in
articulating the bill. Persons with Disabilities were widely represented during the process.
One of the crucial features of a National Commission on Disability is in the context of
accessibility. Accordingly, the National Commission on Disability shall have offices in all states of
the federation, with headquarters in Abuja. Besides having PWDs as members of the Council,
membership shall also be spread across geopolitical zones. These measures are geared towards
making the Commission accessible as well as having its impact felt in all parts of the country.
4. The existence, structure, and mandate of national authorities tasked with monitoring
facilities and programmes designed to serve Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) to prevent
exploitation, violence and abuse:
Section 97(2) of the Disability bill provides that the Commission shall set up its monitoring panel
to monitor the projects being executed by the Commission. The Commission is to serve as an
independent body to oversee the affairs of PWDs in Nigeria. Its mandate shall include :
a) To ensure that all facilities in each community across the federation shall be built or
modified(where and when feasible) to accommodate special needs of PWDs
b) To ensure the monitoring , evaluation and realization of government policy objectives on
Persons with Disabilities
c) Establishment and promoting inclusive schools, vocational and rehabilitation centres for the
development of PWDs
d) To collate data and records on Special Education of PWDs .This shall be a regular exercise so that
PWDs are identified and enumerated for planning and treatment.
e) Collaborate with relevant ministries, parastatals and agencies to issue codes and directives for
designing and building public structures so as to make them accessible to PWDs.
f) Receiving complaints from PWDs on violation of their rights
The Disability Commission shall have a Governing Council which shall conduct the affairs of the
Commission. The Council shall have a full time Chairperson, who shall be a qualified person with
disability as well as membership as already reflected in No 3 above.
Structurally, the Commission shall have a Head Office and State Offices nationwide with the
a) Department of Administration and Personnel Management
b) Department of Health & Rehabilitation
c) Department of Finance & Supplies
d) Department of Planning ,Research & Statistics
e) Department of Transport
f) Education Unit
g) Legal Unit.
It is worthy of note that some of the institutions enumerated above are also involved in efforts to
domesticate the Convention against torture ( CAT) like the Ministry of Justice and the NHRC. The NHRC
has recently established a torture documentation center aimed at developing a database on incidences
of torture to facilitate research, monitoring, programming and interventions in that area.
Even though focal institutions and frameworks have been established with the requisite mandate to
facilitate the implementation of the convention on rights of persons with disabilities, a lot still needs to
be done to fully bring disability issues to the front burner of national discourse in Nigeria. There is need
for improved funding of the local mechanisms and focal agencies to execute programs targeted at
addressing problems of PWDs. There is also need to build capacity of stakeholders both in government
and the civil society to strategically program for the benefit of PWDs. The domestication of the
convention is a giant step by the Parliament (having provided the legal framework), but the provision of
adequate material and human resources by both the executive and the parliament to ensure effective
implementation of the convention in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized.