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2023 Elections: NHRC to partner Facebook, records 22 hate speeches

2023 Elections: NHRC to partner Facebook, records 22 hate speeches

By Nkem Chidi

Alarmed by the unrelenting use of hate speech by politicians and their agents, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has disclosed that it has gone far in its partnership discussions with Facebook (meta), with a view to stem the tide of hate speeches in the country.

It explained that hate speech is divisive and capable of unleashing unpleasant consequences in the polity.

Speaking at the monthly review meeting of its MOVE project for the month of March, its executive secretary, Tony Ojukwu noted that in the face of existing threats, hate speech and incitements, insecurity and violence which are trailing the just concluded 2023 general elections, that the Commission cannot, but appeal to Nigerians to remain peaceful, calm and law abiding.

NHRC scribe who thanks the media for their coverage, and other partners and sponsors for their continued support to the Commission decried the violence and hate speech which took over the political land scale especially during the month of March. It disclosed that during the just concluded general elections where it deployed 800 personnel and a functional situation room, it recorded 22 hate speeches, 75 attacks on INEC facilities, 130 attacks by unknown gunmen and several other aspects of human rights violations.

It explained that the MOVE project is aimed at factoring human rights issues in election process such that political parties and their candidates can sign on to it.

It decried the speed at which the government recently sanctioned some media organizations over complaints made by political parties for granting interviews to the opposition. It also raised fears that the amount of litigations arising from the elections may affect other civil and human right cases before the courts.

NHRC’s Project Coordinator, Hilary Ogbonna who presented the commission’s findings said, it was wrong, the speed with which sanctions were imposed on some television stations just five days after complaints were made through a petition, adding that such quick action was capable of sending wrong signal to the public and international community that thorough investigation was not carried out.

According to him, the NHRC is not querrying the right of sister government agencies to carry out their statutory responsibilities but said caution should be exercised when petitions written by politically exposed persons are involved.

He said as the National Human Rights Commission in Nigeria, it is expedient to advise sister government agencies to promote human rights in the country rather than impede rights of citizens.

Ogbonnaya advised that due to the crucial roles media play in the society, sanction should be the last resort when it concerns the sector.

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