Leprosy survivors in Lagos State have lamented about the rejection by officials at the National Identification Management Commission (NIMC) enrolment centre in Lagos mainland Local Government area of the state.
Speaking to BONews Service about what he described as gross discrimination, Mohammed Baba, the Chairman of the association of leprosy survivors in Lagos, revealed that he has been receiving complaints from members of the association that they were rejected at NIMC enrolment centres.
Baba said, “we were rejected at the registration centres because we don’t have fingers. Does that make us non-Nigerians?
“NIN has been made mandatory for all Nigerians but we turned back even when we are ready for capturing.”
Baba revealed that, “we were directed to go to Alahusa for capturing. By the time we get to Alahusa, it will be the same thing.
“Traveling all the way from Lagos Mainland to Alahusa is a long distance, and they might not attend to us in one day. Why should we be made to go through that, just because we are leprosy survivors,” he lamented.
Speaking on how to address the issue, Baba mentioned that, “I went to the Lagos State office for Disability Affairs, LASODA, to meet with the General Manager to help us find a solution to this, but unfortunately, I didn’t meet him.
“I hope we can get a lasting solution to this because this is pure discrimination and stigmatization by an agency of government,” he added.
Corroborating Baba’s complain in separate interviews, Yaho Iliasu and Umaru Salisu who are both leprosy survivors, explained that they have been going to the Mainland Local Government for NIN registration for over one week before being turned down and referred to Alahusa.
Reacting to this, Dr. Adebukola Adebayo, Lagos State Chairman of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) said, “what has played out is to reveal the deficiency in the technology that is being used. It is expected that policy guiding the NIN registration captures all citizen regardless of their disability
“There are other forms of biometric which could be adopted. That you do not have fingers doesn’t make you less human and I am sure it is not just leprosy survivors that would be affected, amputees would also be affected.”
Dr. Adebayo decried the action, noting that, “if people are being turned back from accessing certain services because of their disabilities, where would they go?
He noted that, “there are various ways of capturing biometrics and in the 21st century, capturing of biometrics should be multi-dimensional. Technology has made all of these things possible and it is the responsibility of the government to make all of these available, to ensure no one is being discriminated against.
“The National Disability law does not support this action and Article 9 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities does not support it. The government should rethink the approach of capturing biometrics, it should be multi-dimensional and take into consideration access for persons with disabilities.”
On his part, Mr. Busuyi Omopariola, the South West Commissioner for the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, NCPWD, revealed that, “this is pure discrimination. I have also spoken with the Executive Secretary of the NCPWD and he has said he would meet with the Director General of the NIMC next week to discuss solutions.
“The ES has assured that leprosy survivors will be registered,” he added.