CITAD  warns politicians against inciting comments

By-Kola Oyelere, Kano

The Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), has warned the ruling and the opposition parties, to desist from allegedly fanning ember of disunity,through embarking on hate speech and derogative comment during electioneering ,campaigns,saying this trend is highly inimical to peaceful election.

The Lead, Countering Harmful Speech and Disinformation Desk, Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), Hamza Ibrahim made the call on Wednesday , during a press briefing on Hate speech and Campaigns for this year’s general elections, held in Kano.

It has been observed that burning symbols of political parties,is gradually becoming part of the electioneering, where a video posted on twitter showed the spokesperson of one of the major political parties leading the burning of another party candidate’s regalia,

In addition to the spokesperson of another party who posted a video in which his party received decampees from another Party with denigrating words.

He hinted that the center had tracked and analysed political videos containing threats against voters, 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, which is done in the name of campaigning for some Political Parties or certain candidates.

He therefore appealed to serving governors and politicians, who engage in insulting or using hateful comments on their opponents, content creators, comedians, and film makers advertising politicians to sanitize their words to ensure hate and violence free elections.

He then charged politicians to desist from using denigrating, offensive, hateful or inflammatory remarks during political rallies and campaign.

He noted that the ,CITAD, as an ICT-focused organisation that uses ICTs for Peace, Development and good Governance, focused attention on tracking and Countering election-based harmful Speech and Disinformation, through a ‘harmful speech observatory ‘ in the last six months.

According to him, the observatory collates harmful speech, segregating them into various categories, 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 added that through the online platform, it was observed that, the major purveyors of inciting comments are spokesperson of Political Campaign Councils, Film makers through adverts, content creators on social media, Comedians, Prominent Politicians, Party Supporters and Political singers.

The CITAD , considered it necessary to raise critical concerns, and pinpoint the danger considering the rate at which inciting hate speech, violence, threatening remark and misinformation, are surfacing Online, and the danger they pose to the peaceful conduct of forth coming general elections.

His words ,”In their Political address either at campaign rallies, social media commentary or anywhere, we want them to as well stop disrespecting symbols or regalia of their opponents”.

Alhaji Ibrahim maintained that, another disturbing trend is the use of hate speech and ethnic profiling, directed at some people on the basis of their ethnicity, by powerful politicians, saying that, Ethnic profiling and hate on any group is very dangerous at all times, and must be stopped and condemned regardless of where it comes from.

“We are disappointed to know that these candidates have endorsed and signed the National Peace Accord” .


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