The Association of Lawyers with Disabilities in Nigeria (ALDIN) has accused the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) of not treating lawyers with disabilities fairly at its 2019 Annual General Conference.
This was contained in a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES Saturday.
In the statement signed by Daniel Onwe, the president of the group, it said its members, who paid both their statutory fees, and conference fees to the NBA “were subjected to untold hardship at the event.”
“Despite the series of letters written by the ALDIN to the NBA, articulating the concerns of her (ALDIN) members with regards to the conference, the NBA failed to factor the peculiar interest of ALDIN members in this year’s conference. To say the least, this year’s conference is indeed a roll-back on the progress earlier made by the NBA in the area of disability inclusion.
“For instance, at previous conferences, a limited number of indigent members of ALDIN would be sponsored to the conference, and such sponsorship would cover conference registration, transportation and accommodation.
“This year, it was two days into the conference already, that the NBA, via whatsapp message, contacted ALDIN, calling for nomination of ALDIN members who would be given registration fee waiver and free lunch. And because of the timing and circumstance, no ALDIN member could take advantage of the said offer.
“In previous years, there were sign language interpreters at the conference; there was none this year. This year, lawyers with disabilities had difficulties access both the conference venues and shuttle buses.This made some of them to break down, others got their mobility aids damaged; and were unable to make it to the conference on subsequent days.”
The group also alleged that while the NBA is taking steps to constitute Young Lawyers’ Forum and Female Lawyers’ Forum, “nothing is being said about creating any forum to cater for the peculiarities of Lawyers with Disabilities.
“At the Annual General Meeting, which held as part of the conference, an attempt to raise the issue of Lawyers with Disabilities was shut out by the NBA President, who was presiding over the meeting.”
ALDIN said the NBA flouted the law which provides that people living with disabilities should not be discriminated against or subjected to hardship.
“NBA flouted all these laws without scruples. It gives us more concern, that these happened under an NBA President who, during his campaign, passionately promised to alleviate the sufferings of lawyers with disabilities.
“Much as we have unimpeachable cause of action against the NBA in the circumstance, in keeping with our avowed and unalloyed loyalty to the NBA, we shall restrain ourselves from taking any legal action. Also, given our understanding that two wrongs do not make a right, we shall not relent in paying our practicing fees and branch dues to the NBA as and when due.”
Meanwhile, the NBA President, Paul Usoro, denied all allegations levelled against the association.
Mr Usoro, in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES, said efforts were made to cater for lawyers living disabilities.
“I told the president that I want to even sponsor some of their members to the conference. In any case… There was even a gentleman (at the conference) who spoke about persons living with disabilities. There’s a conclusion that NBA look into that and there will be committee on that,” he explained.
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