FAAN, airlines violating rights of people with disabilities, Reps allege

The House of Representatives has accused the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and airline operators of violating the rights of Persons Living with Disabilities at the airports across the country.

The lawmakers decried that special facilities were not available at the airports to ease usage by the PWDs.

A member of the House, Miriam Onuoha, had at the plenary on Wednesday moved a motion titled ‘Need to Investigate the Alleged Violation of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and Private Airline Operators,’ which the House unanimously adopted.

While moving the motion, Onuoha said, “The House notes that the high rate of discrimination and harassment of Persons Living with Disabilities by airlines is becoming alarming and is telling bad on the image of the country, and it is a known fact that Nigerian citizens living with disabilities constitute one of the poorest socially-excluded and marginalised groups Nigeria.”

The lawmaker stated that among the major notable provisions of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities Prohibition Act, 2018 were Sections 1 and 14, which prohibit any form of discrimination against persons with disabilities.

She said in a world where everyone sought equal opportunity, irrespective of status, “it is disheartening that two years after the enactment of the Act, persons with disabilities are still being treated with disdain and discriminated against by the airline regulator and some operators/carriers.”

Onuoha said, “The House is cognisant of the fact that disability itself is a burden with its attendant consequences on persons with disabilities, hence the actions of the herein mentioned airlines are like punishing the person twice, which can be described as double jeopardy.

“The House is informed of the claims by one Dr Chike Okogwu who is living with disability, that on December 21, 2020, Dana Air barred him from boarding its aircraft after he had obtained a boarding pass, on the ground that ‘a new policy forbids carrying passengers with wheelchairs.’

“The House is desirous of ensuring that the rights of persons living with disability are not infringed owing to their vulnerabilities.”

Following the adoption, the House urged the relevant agencies to provide functional disability desks to ease the sufferings of PWDs at all airports in Nigeria, while also urging airline operators, in collaboration with FAAN, to provide relevant assistive devices for such persons at the airports.

The House further mandated the Committee on Disabilities to investigate the allegation of the discrimination against persons with disabilities, with particular reference to the allegation of Dr Chike Okogwu against Dana Airline and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.

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