Legal Nigeria

2023: NHRC warns politicians against hate speech

As the 2023 general elections draw closer, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has warned against the use of provocative, strong and derogatory speeches by politicians and their supporters.

The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu (SAN), who was speaking at the commemoration of the International Day for Countering Hate Speech at the weekend in Abuja said hate speech promotes prejudice, undermines social cohesion and constitutes a threat to national security.

According to the NHRC boss, hate speech has become a strong tool in the hands of people with divisive tendencies before, during and after elections, adding that “Their aim is to insult and ridicule perceived opponents of political parties and aspirants and thereby incite electoral violence leading to loss of lives and destruction of properties”.

Ojukwu, who lamented that the frequent use of hate speeches in Nigeria, has a devastating effect on sustainable peace, national cohesion, the dignity of the human person, peace and development in the country, said, the 2023 general elections present another opportunity to further deepen democracy and the protection of human rights.

According to him, the uncontrolled use or misuse of social media to spread hate messages in Nigeria and that the fight against hate speech should be a matter of great concern for all to prevent conflicts and advance peace and progress in the country.

In a message to the occasion, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Matthias Schmale, observed that new technologies of communication have amplified the scale and impact of hate speech.

He said social media and the internet are presently the most frequent methods for spreading divisive rhetoric and ideologies on a global scale and added that the UN promotes tolerance in countering hate speech, in line with the 2021 UN General Assembly resolution on the promotion of inter-religious and inter-cultural and tolerance in countering hate speech.