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Elections: Foundation calls for inclusion of persons with disabilities

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By Becky John

The Albino Foundation on Wednesday urged INEC to exempt its members from standing under the sun during the general elections as exposure to sun affects their health. Mr Jake Epelle, the Founder of the association, made the appeal in an interview with the newsmen in Abuja. Epelle said that the foundation had earlier demanded for a preference voting right for all vulnerable groups nationwide, saying INEC was positive in its response.

He said that the foundation also asked for the provision of magnifiers for his members, since INEC cannot provide customized ballot papers for them.

“We have finally received INEC’s approval of preference voting conditions for people with disabilities which includes persons with Albinism.

“All we are asking for is that INEC should exempt us from standing under the sun, provide magnifiers for us, since they cannot provide large print ballot papers.

“Report shows that about 25 million Nigerians who are visually impaired, even those who use glasses, once the magnifiers are provided, they don’t need the glasses.

“The magnifiers amplify and enlarge the prints on the ballot papers both for images and letters,” he said.

Epelle said that the magnifying glasses cost less than N3, 000 each, noting that it was a necessity if the electoral commission wants to serve the community of people who are visually impaired. He said that the vulnerable groups should be exempted from queuing on voting line. He said that the foundation would only rely on the media to help in passing across its concerns and challenges in order for their needs to be met.

He urged the media to educate the general public, especially the vulnerable groups, on the need to demand for their rights on the Election Day. Also enjoined his members and other vulnerable groups to use the opportunity and vote for the candidates of their choice. Besides, he urged INEC to train its ad-hoc staff on how to identify all vulnerable groups at the polling units and to provide the necessary voting preference for them.

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