By Nick Dugba.
The Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), a Non-Governmental Organisation, has conducted a sensitization programme for 52 Taraba stakeholders on countering hate and dangerous speeches.
According to the organizers, hate speech maligns and ridicules an individual in relation to his group while a dangerous speech incites people to accept violence against others as a norm.
At the sensitization programme held at the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT Hall in Jalingo recently, CITAD’s Research and Communication Officer, Alhaji Hamza Chinade, said dangerous speech was more worrisome because it had the capacity to incite violence against the people.
He said countering dangerous speech would minimize or eliminate its potential to cause animosities and wanton destruction of lives and properties.
Chinde said understanding the message, audience and channel of communication were critical requirements for countering a dangerous speech.
He listed strategies in countering dangerous speech to include advocacy, neutralizing the speech and “bringing the moral pressure through the public, media, NGOs, influential people and press conferences”.
Earlier on, the Senior Programme Officer, CITAD, Alhaji Isah Garba, noted that dangerous speech was capable of destroying a Country.
He cited that “In 1994, 800,000 people were brutally murdered in Rwanda in just 100 days, following a dangerous speech that says “Tutsis are cockroaches wherever you find them, crush them”.
“Therefore, a concerted effort needs to be put in place to counter dangerous speech because the violence it caused in Rwanda can happen in any Country including Nigeria”, he warned.
Garba noted that such unguarded utterances in Nigeria became more prominent in the build- up to the 2015 general election and continued after the election as the NGO had monitored 6,258 hate and dangerous speeches in the country between June and Dec. 2016.
He said religion-based dangerous speech topped the list with 2603 speeches; ethnicity- based with 2449 while politics-based and others recorded 1206 dangerous speeches within the period.
The official, however, stated that dangerous speech also involves any expression, especially on social media, including images, dances, films and cartoons that denigrates people.
MacArthur foundation sponsored the programme which was attended by students, Community leaders, religious leaders, the media, Civil Society Organizations and Government officials.