By Boluwaji Obahopo.
The Centre for International Technology and Development, CITAD has accused politicians and political class of fueling hate speech and violence against women in Nigeria.
CITAD coordinator, countering Hate Speech Project, Mr. Hamza Ibrahim who spoke in Lokoja on Thursday said the electioneering campaign in Kogi and Bayelsa have further pitched the two states on the highest index of hate speech and violence against women.
The NGO who said if the tide is not addressed it will pushed the country to a brim of collapse, said the social mediums of Facebook, Twitter and others have become an easy tool to propagate the hate speech and violence against women as well.
Mr. Ibrahim said, “bearing in mind that the population of Nigerians on social media platforms is speedily growing, and the online visibility of conventional media also gives room for discussion, hate speech and online violence against women are sadly becoming rampant.
“Our observatory, the hate speech collation hub has from 1st to 30th November, 2019 tracked and documented a total number of three hundred and eighty seven (387) hate and dangerous speech instances. The speech incidents were tracked by our trained monitors stationed across different parts of the country. The speech items were tracked on two social media platforms-Facebook and Twitter. Our analysis established that the speech instances occurred in textual, video, pictorial and symbolic form.
“Out of the total number (387) of the captured speech instances, 32% where ethnic-based, 26% election related, in the last three months the two categories have maintained lead unlike before when religious-based hate speech used to be at the top of the list, we have also noticed rise in the volume of gendered hate speech and hate speech related to issues of attention.
“The rise in the four categories is connected to the gubernatorial election here in Kogi and Bayelsa states. Most of the speech instances we saw and captured in the mentioned categories have election colouration.”
Raising concern, CITAD stressed that, “Hate speech instances we saw before and during the election here in Kogi were highly inciting, and it was disturbing that those that engaged in the speech acts were the same politicians we have been cautioning and they seemed to be passionately inciting groups against groups in massive gatherings, we strongly condemn this unpatriotic act in totality! Acts of that nature have led other nations into nightmare.
“One of the very unfortunate and inciting speeches we saw was the video of a politician addressing a large crowd in native language few days to the election and he asked people to take a violent action on anyone that did not vote for their party, this is undemocratic and peace-threatening!”
“It could be recalled that during our pre-election press conference we have raised concerns and cautioned particularly politicians against engaging in hate speech as well as violence against women. Despite the plea, we have unfortunately tracked and documented instances of hate speech and violence against women. Witnessing such incidents are serious blow to democracy.
“At this point, we would like to reiterate our appeal to particularly President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the heartless killing of Mrs Acheju Abuh is not allowed to go unpunished. While we commend his directive on the matter, we want to in the interest of future sustainable and peaceful electoral conduct and by extension democratic governance in Nigeria, want him to ensure that her killers are brought to book and acts of that nature on anyone are mitigated.
“Barr. Natasha Akpoti’s attack before the election and Mrs Abuh’s murder have justified the experience Nigerian women politicians face as a result of their involvement in political process. We have recently conducted research around hindrance and challenges of women involved in political and governance processes in Nigeria, and intimidation, harassment, assault, and use of thugs to frighten and disperse them were some of the findings of the research. And women should not in anyway be discriminated against for their involvement in political or governance process, they are strong pillars whose views and choices must be respected!”
The group further appealed to relevant stakeholders to take drastic steps towards mitigating against hate speech and violence against women, “We want to draw the attention of the peace accord initiators in Kogi state to the post election hate speech being circulated on social media and swiftly engage actors from all political parties on that.
“We appeal to Governor Yahaya Bello and Engr. Musa Wada as well as their party chairpersons to strongly caution their followers against hate speech particularly in the pages or groups they manage on their principals’ behalf.
“We urge social media users in the state to sanitize their posts and remarks and avoid engaging in hate speech. We advise that Twitter and Facebook users report instances of hate speech to the platforms. We enjoin entire people of Kogi to be peace-loving, shun making or negatively reacting to hateful remarks no matter the provocation.”