Nigeria Rights body warns politicians over hate speech

Former Katsina State Governor, Ibrahim Shema
Former Katsina State Governor, Ibrahim Shema

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, has warned Nigerian politicians to desist from the use of hate speeches in rallies and on social media.

A communique by the governing council of the commission, called the attention of politicians to the provision of Sections 95 and 96 of the Electoral Act which prohibits direct or indirect abusive languages in political campaigns.

The Act condemns the use of languages capable of provoking violent reactions or emotions or the use or threat of violence in campaigns.

In October, the Katsina State governor, Ibrahim Shema, was caught in a video urging his supporters to reprise any provocation by the opposition and to crush them like “cockroaches.”

He asked the crowd what to do if they found the nocturnal insect in their apartments.

The crowd chorused “Kill them!”

“Crush them!” the governor responded, agreeing with the crowd.

The same kind of hate speech was used by the Hutus against the Tutsis prior to Rwanda’s 1994 pre-genocide.

The council also appealed to media especially social media users to take appropriate measures to refrain from using their platforms to transmit hate speech.

The council asked that the Commission intensively monitor political campaigns for compliance with the prohibitions of hate speech in under Nigerian law; to invoke and deploy all appropriate measures of censure and accountability where there is non-compliance with these measures.

It also requested the commission’s Executive Secretariat to summon a meeting with the Chairmen and leaders of all political parties in order to bring this to their attention and ensure effective compliance; and establish an Election 2015 Team which shall include all organs of the Commission and all members of the Governing Council.

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