By Muhammad Aminu
The Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) has launched a hate speech monitoring team to monitor and record politically inclined cases of hate speech on social media as the 2023 general elections approach.
In a press briefing in Kano, the head of monitoring team, Malam Hamza Ibrahim, said the team would provide database for incidents of hate speech in Nigeria.
Mal. Ibrahim noted that monitors were trained to monitor utterances in both English and the Nigerian languages on the Nigerian political process leading to the 2023 election.
“The essence of the monitoring is to record instances of hate speech and sensitise stakeholders about them and devise strategies to counter them,” he said.
According to him, hate speech on social media when left uncountered could impede unity and diversity of Nigeria as a country.
He cautioned political actors to avoid engaging in hate speech in their electioneering as many elected political actors engaged in it during the 2019 elections.
“In 2019, politicians used hate speech for political gain and incited violence. Government elected officials used hate speech.
“Politicians need to be cautioned. We advised that as we approach the 2023 election, politicians’ utterances should be free from inciting violence and hate speech.”
He called on scial media influencers, bloggers and the media to support in countering hate speech which he described as “a cancer that must be eliminated.”
He regretted that youths were mostly used hence targeting the youths in CITAD’s intervention against the menace of hate speech.
He further revealed that June 18 was set aside by the United Nations to observe countering of hate speech. That signifies the serious attention it’s getting because of its roles in conflicts that could lead to loss of lives and displacement.
“It’s timely recognition by the UN because many lives were lost due to conflicts induced by hate speech,” he noted.
The team unveiled a publication titled “Extinguishing Hate Speech: Roles for Politicians, Religious and Community Leaders” to help guide key stakeholders to ensure peaceful election in 2013.
“It is based on researches across Nigeria with recommendation for political, religious and community leaders on how prevent and tackle hate speech,” he concluded.
In another development, CITAD converged a roundtable on the draft code of practice released by the National Information Technology and Development Agency (NITDA) to guide operations of major social media platforms in Nigeria.
Experts argued that while some parts of the codes were needed to checkmate the excesses of the giant tech, others were aimed at stifling freedom of speech and expression.
They called on Nigerians to have their inputs before the draft codes were operationalized in the country.