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CITAD Expresses Concern Over Increasing Rate Of Hate Speeches Among Politicians, Supporters

Center for information technology and development (CITAD) has expressed concern over the attitude of some spokespersons of candidates who are actually engaged in harmful and hate speeches in the name of campaigns.

The center also said, film makers and comedians involved in advertising candidates as well as supporters of political parties are engaged in this act that is capable of disrupting peace and threatening the conduct of the forthcoming 2023 General elections.

At a Press briefing on Tuesday in Kano, Hamza Ibrahim, Lead, Countering Harmful Speech and Disinformation Desk coordinator of the center said, prominent politicians, including serving governors are encouraging their supporters to spread harmful messages.

”From our observation and monitoring of harmful speech in the last six weeks, the above groups have been at the forefront of purveying not only harmful speech on social media, but disinformation. And as the general election keeps approaching and considering the rate at which incitement, call for violence, hate speech, threatening remarks and disinformation are surfacing online, we consider it necessary to raise these critical concerns with the public and pinpoint the danger they pose to peaceful conduct of the election that we hope for”

”We have tracked and analyzed political videos containing threats against voters (these kinds of videos even threaten lives of voters if they dare vote against what their threateners want), videos showing how symbols and regalia of political opponents are being set on fire, audio clips directing hate against some people for their political choice”

Hamza Ibrahim Also said, the center now operate and manage an online platform called “harmful speech observatory”, in order to track and collect instances of harmful speech, segregating them into various categories and rating their degree of potential danger, alerting relevant stakeholders, engaging social media giant tech companies on policy contravention, drawing caution and enlightening the public on the instances.”

He said the most Disturbing part of the issue is that, the supporters are doing it in the name of campaigning for some political parties or certain candidates.

” In these multimedia clips we have analyzed the perpetrators have openly associated themselves with some parties and candidates, and up to the time of this briefing at 11:00am on Tuesday 7th February, 2023 none of the parties or candidates has cautioned the purveyors or dissociated themselves from the act, and at this point we are disappointed to know that these candidates have endorsed and signed the National Peace Accord, we want to note here, that, their silence on this can be seen to scuttling the peace processing. We therefore appeal to all the presidential candidates to henceforth urge their spokespersons and supporters to stay away from purveying hate as it will be a setback to the election”.

He said, the observatory has documented and analyzed content that clearly directed and promoted hate, incitement and violence on political opponents on the basis of their religion and tribe, and these content in audio form were recorded at a campaign rally of one of the presidential candidates.

”This is dangerous especially at a time when the elections hold in less than three weeks.
We have also tracked and analyzed exchange of denigrating and offensive language amongst politicians aspiring for various elective posts provoking their supporters and followers against their opponents.”

The center then called on all the candidates and their to call their supporters to order, and guide them to learn how to respect opposition’s right, as promoting hate and harmful speeches will not mean well for the country.

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