• 25 Jun, 2024

NCPWD Betrays Mission, Colludes with Grace Jerry to Victimize Blind Nigerians

NCPWD Betrays Mission, Colludes with Grace Jerry to Victimize Blind Nigerians


The National Commission for Persons With Disabilities (NCPWD) has abandoned its mandate to defend PWDs' rights in Nigeria; it now kisses up to a disability NGO owner who believes she can get away with anything.  

Grace Jerry, the Inclusive Friends Association's (IFA) founder, detained, threatened to crush and send out of Abuja a 24-year-old blind weeks ago. 

Lawyers ER interviewed said  those actions violated constitutional protection of every Nigerian, the Discrimination Act, and the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act. Yet Jerry has just succeeded in also turning the table against her victim, thanks to NCPWD’s helping hand.

Mayowa Eleanora Boyo has now become their double victim, facing a defamation charge before the commission.

Jerry who may soon appear in court brought the petition. And the commission entertained it, after ignoring the story of Eleanora’s abuse that trended across the Nigerian disability community and foreign donor community weeks ago.

“Executive Secretary [James Lalu] has directed that a thorough investigation be opened on the said matter,” the letter Akor Justina signed on behalf of the commission’s compliance officer stated. “This is in line with the extant law.”

The compliance officer didn’t state which law empowers NCPWD to investigate a victim of power play that speaks out against her abuser, and seeks redress.

Rather, section 39(o) of the Discrimination Act 2018 that established the commission states the commission shall: ‘support an individual’s right to seek redress in court, investigation, prosecution, or sanctioning, in appropriate cases, the violation of the provision of this Act'.

Many wonder the manner of an ES that turns a victim his commission has the mandate to protect into a defender of a trumped-up charge.

ER had documented and reported Jerry's influence peddling to stop Eleanora from speaking up, and gag ER itself despite a week the publication spent seeking her own side of the story.

The Nigeria Association of the Blind, Abuja, invited Jerry, too.  But she refused to appear, claiming she cannot get justice from a panel of blind persons defending their own member.

Having failed in all those attempts to cover up the rights abuse allegation and its reporting, Jerry took her influence peddling to the NCPWD. And Lalu has granted her wish without a scruple, joining ER’s Managing Editor Gbenga Ogundare with Eleanora in the summons.

“It’s a painful show of lack of capacity and character,” Ogundare, the blind publisher of ER, said. “Otherwise Jerry and James should have known that the media can’t be tried in the commission or anywhere that is not a court of competent jurisdiction.”

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Sources informed ER of the family ties Jerry is likely exploiting in the commission.

And members of the disability community following the development said they believe the commission selects whom it defends against who.

"Debola Daniel didn't come to the commission when it took up his matter against the management of KFC," a PWD said.

Debola, the son of a former governor protested on Twitter when a KFC outlet discriminated against him weeks ago.

Lalu and the commission immediately put out a press statement, and invited the outlet owner. The House of Reps also intervened.

"Why has the commission kept quiet since the founder of a disability NGO Jerry abused a blind lady?"

ER sought clarification from Hon. Bashiru Dawodu, the chairman, House Committee on Disabilities.

One question centred whether it is NCPWD's call to try defamation and ignore the matter of an NGO founder trying to evade allegations of violating a PWD right by pulling wires in the commission.

ER also asked to know the position the commission should take in light of the Discrimination Act in a case like this—where a disability NGO owner abuses her office to violate the right of an ordinary PWD.

Dawodu has yet to respond.

Eleanora has, however, stuck to her story. It matters little to her even when it’s only one NGO, the Network of Women with Disabilities, which has summoned the courage to stand up for her.

“I know what I am up against,” she said.

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