Inclusive Friends Association (IFA) has expressed concern that Access Nigeria observer reports showed that 16 out of the 20 (80 per cent) registration centres were physically inaccessible to Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) across the four observation weeks in the state.
The Executive Director, Inclusive Friends Association (IFA), Grace Jerry while briefing newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday on the findings of the observation in Anambra on the just concluded Continuous Voter Registration (CVR)
said this was so because accessibility does not change over time except specific steps are taken to remove barriers.
She said that the centres with inaccessible registration centres includes Anaocha, Aguata, Anambra-East, Anambra-West, Awka-North, Awka-South, Dunukofia, Ekwusigo, Idemili-South, Ihiala, Njikoka, Nnewi-South, Nnewi-North, Orumba-South, Orumba-North, Oyi and Ogbaru.
On the Priority Registration of PWDs, Grace explained that Access Nigeria observers reported that INEC provided priority registration at all 20 registration centres observed during the fourth week of observation.
She said that it this was a slight improvement over the previous three observation weeks where this service was provided at only 19 centres.
Jerry said the Access Nigeria Campaign deployed 21 carefully trained PWD observers from August 11 to September 1, 2021, at INEC offices, to the 21 LGA offices of INEC in the state to observe the CVR processes.
She stressed that the objective was to ascertain the accessibility of the CVR process for PWDs and make recommendations that will assist INEC to make the process more accessible for PWDs in the future.
According to her, IFA conducted the CVR observation in partnership with the Anambra State chapter of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD); with technical and financial support from the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
She noted that during the exercise 1,840 pieces of data were collected, but that Access Nigeria observers were not able to observe at the INEC registration centre in Ayamelum LGA due to a lingering communal crisis in the LGA that made observation risky at that location.
Also, the Program Manager, (Inclusive Friends Association) Access Nigeria Campaign,Moses Oluwaseyi stated that while the Access Nigeria Campaign commends INEC on the efforts it has made so far to ensure that PWDs are not left behind in the CVR exercise adding that the police and other security agencies should also support by ensuring that all communities across Nigeria are peaceful enough for eligible citizens to register as voters among others recommendations.
“Alternatively, the registration points in the centres should be located in areas that do not have staircases or other barriers as this will immediately eliminate the difficulty faced by PWDs who use crutches or wheelchairs.
“Additionally, the internal layout of all registration centres should be made spacious enough for all categories of PWDs to move freely without barriers during the CVR,” he said.