The Association of Lawyers with Disabilities (ALDIN) has petitioned the Chief Judge of Lagos, Hon. Justice Opeyemi Oke to demand for an enabling environment in various courts in Lagos State for lawyers with disability to conveniently carry out their professional obligations.
In the petition dated 8th November, 2017 was signed by the National President of the Association Mr. Daniel Onwe Esq. members of the Association noted that if persons with disabilities have defied all the odds to acquire the requisite education and become lawyers, it will only be fair to make the system conducive for them to ply their trade and contribute their quota to national development.
The Petition which began with a congratulatory message to the CJ urged that the various demand should be considered. “To begin with, we heartily congratulate your Lordship on your Lordship’s confirmation as the substantive Chief Judge of Lagos State. Given the lofty vision you have unveiled for the Lagos State judiciary, we are happily convinced that it is the dawn of a new day in the Lagos Judiciary,”
The Association went ahead to highlight the various areas where the Chief Judges intervention is urgently required; the association noted
“We write to draw your Lordship’s attention to the need to factor in the peculiarities of persons with disabilities in the revolution you are bringing about in the Lagos State Judiciary. Accordingly, we have hereunder highlighted specific relevant issues that would guide Your Lordship in addressing the said peculiarities.”
The highlighted areas according to the petition are;
Accessibility of the Court Premises where the Association relied on the provision of the Lagos State Special People’s Law which provides for the need to provide facilities to enable these category of people function optimally. Another area is the Reservation of Parking lot. The association noted with regret the hardship suffered by Persons with Disability with regards to parking spaces within the court premises. In their words;
“It may interest Your Lordship to know that it works severe hardshp, for instance, to make a persons with disability to alight far away and then be subjected to a long walk to his or her location of destination, because there is no available nearby parking space.”
Other areas are flexibility of court proceedings to accommodate especially people with visual impairment; Sitting Arrengement in Courts to enable the disabled the convinence of addressing the court; Public Functions where the Association is beging the Chief Judge to ensure that available attendants are oriented to particularly consider, and where necessary, assist persons with disabilities in attendance.
Others are the request that lawyers with disability who may not be disposed to the hassle of private legal practice may be considered for suitable employment. And lastly to ensure that other arms of the State Government comply with the provisions of the law protecting special needs people. The petition noted:
“Your Lordship, it is noteworthy that other arms of the Lagos State Government have been showing progressive compliance with the provisons of the Lagos State Special People’s Law. For instance, at the the Lagos State Secretariat and the Lagos State House of Assembly Complex, parking lots are reserved and conspicously marked of persons with disabilities. Also, accessibility facilities such as ramps are now common occurences at public places in Lagos State. Unfortunately, there is no such compliance at court premises in Lagos State. Meamwhile, the judiciary is expected to take the lead in complying with the Law”.
The association then urged the Honourable Chief Judge to assist the disabled by considering the various issues of great importance present by the Association: In their words;
It is also germane to add that since the passage of the Law in 2011, several letters have been writen to other Chief Judges of Lagos State, drawing the attention to the need to comply with the said law, but to no avail. Attached are copies of the said previous letters.
We are hopeful, My Lord, that God has brought you at this point in time to make that desired difference. So that every lawyer in Lagos State, despite his or her disability status, would have equal opportunity to excel and aspire.
Should My Lord require any further clarification on any of the above issues, a delegation of our association will be glad to meet with My Lord for that purpose at My Lord’s convenience. The petition concluded.
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