The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command, Idowu Omohunwa, says the command will be sensitive to the interest of Persons Living with Disabilities (PWDs) in the state to ensure their rights are protected.
Omohunwa gave the assurance when a team from the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) paid an advocacy visit to his office in Lagos on Thursday.
The visit to the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Lagos State Command, led by Mr David Anyaele, CCD’s Executive Director, was on Enhancing Access to Justice for Persons with Disabilities.
The team was earlier received by ACP Mary Ayim, AC Administration, NPF, Lagos State Command, Ikeja.
The Commissioner of Police said: “ACP Ayim has given me the feedback on the interaction with you as it concerns your wishes.
“For the command under my leadership, I am very much abreast of your activities. I was part of the process that led to the establishment of the Desk Office for Persons with Disabilities.
“Some of your requirements will require the Federal Government’s actions but I know that you as a body, you have been very forceful in your presentation on issues regarding PWDs to the FG.
“For the command, we are sensitive to your interest; just that some of those demands are about structural remodeling, and that must be for FG to approve, while we align with you, we truly agree.
“But the ones within our powers, like sensitizing our officers to be responsive to your interest when your rights are violated, to protect you from dangers, security breaches and when they happen, to also pay special attention, I assure you, we will do that.
“You can find in us partners you can work with,’’ Omohunwa said.
Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) visits Nigeria Police Force, Lagos State Command
He said that ACP Ayim would be coordinating the affairs of PWDs and requests from the CCD.
In his remarks, Anyaele said that for PWDs to fully participate and contribute to society maximally, they must have equal access to legal protection, support, and remedies.
“We are aware of the several commitments made by security agencies to leave no stone unturned to ensure every form of discrimination, harassment, violence, and social vices against persons with disabilities is eradicated and justice properly served.
“However, despite the crucial roles played by the security agencies, several challenges still hinder PWDs’ access to justice’’.
According to him, some of the challenges include a lack of adequate training for law enforcement officers on disability rights, leading to misunderstandings, misconceptions, and improper treatment of PWDs.
“Effective communication with PWDs may be hindered due to a lack of sign language interpreters or communication aids for the deaf and instructions in braille for the blind, impacting their ability to report crimes or seek assistance.
“PWDs who seek justice are often faced with stigmatization and discriminatory attitude, verbal and physical assaults within the security forces, affecting how they are perceived, treated, and supported.
“The Nigeria Police Force offices and posts may not be fully accessible, resulting in infrastructural discrimination, thereby making it challenging for PWDs to physically reach these facilities and access services.’’
He noted that PWDs might fear reporting crimes or rights violations due to concerns about negative reactions from law enforcement or a lack of trust in the justice system.
He also said that PWDs might not receive the necessary emotional or psychological support during investigations or legal proceedings, thereby affecting their ability to participate effectively.
Anyaele said that addressing these challenges and fostering a more inclusive approach within the Nigeria Police Force was essential to ensure that PWDs confidently access justice through security agencies.
He made some recommendations to promote, enhance, and contribute significantly to a more just and equitable society for all citizens, including those with disabilities.
“The Nigeria Police Force collaborates with Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) to provide comprehensive training for officers on disability rights, appropriate interactions, and the use of sign language for effective communication with PWDs that are deaf.
“This will help officers understand the challenges faced by PWDs and ensure respectful treatment. 2. Establish accessible ways for PWDs to report crimes and rights violations
“This includes ensuring that reporting and feedback mechanisms are available through various communication channels and that officers are trained to assist PWDs effectively.’’
He said there was also a need for the Nigeria Police Force to launch awareness campaigns to educate officers and the public about the rights and needs of PWDs.
“This will help reduce stigma, improve attitudes, and promote fair treatment within the security agencies.
“The NPF should ensure the safety and protection of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, natural disasters, and other emergencies.
“First consideration should be given to persons with disabilities as stated in the law. Appoint dedicated officers (Disability Desk Officers) as liaisons for PWD-related cases.
“These officers can provide specialized support, guide PWDs through the legal process, and ensure their rights are protected.
“The Nigeria Police Force to collaborate with disability organizations and other key stakeholders to provide emotional and psychological support services for PWDs involved in legal proceedings.
“The Nigeria Police should establish mechanisms for monitoring and reporting instances of discrimination or mistreatment of PWDs. Ensure accountability and take appropriate action when violations occur.’’
Anyaele appreciated the CP for the opportunity to share some of the challenges that PWDs faced in accessing justice through security agencies and hoped that the recommendations highlighted would be addressed.
He also presented some documents on disability acts and laws in the state and country.