The need for stakeholders to be proactive in building a network of anti-hate speech crusaders, and inculcate the war against hate speech in children through the education curriculum have been made.
The call was made by Media stakeholders in a communiqué issued after a webinar organized by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in collaboration with Penpushing Media.
The webinar meeting held on Wednesday was to train Nigerian journalists on the theme ‘Combating hate speech to build the culture of peace in Nigeria’.
The discussion which lasted for two hours was centred on how Nigerian journalists could play their key roles in stemming the tide of hate speech in the country, considering the vantage positions they occupy in the dissemination of news and information in the society.
The communiqué noted that hate speech is not new to us, as it has been with us since creation, but emphasised need to begin moves to stem it from tearing the society apart, and instead journalists should use their media to promote national unity.
“We must identify the sources of hate speech and how to tackle it, while efforts should be made to ensure victims of hate speech report to relevant law enforcement agencies.
“Law enforcement agencies should be able to identify hate speech and be alive to their responsibilities in stemming the tide, without necessarily discouraging freedom of speech and expression’, the communiqué stated.
Also, the communiqué read that government should be tolerant of opposing views and should not tag criticisms as hate speech, adding that journalists should be trained in conflict reporting and multicultural awareness campaign.
The participants which cut across all six geo-political zones of the country said in similar vein, media organizations should establish monitoring and evaluation units to sensitize the audience to the dangers of hate speech.
“It is dangerous to condone unwholesome practices or to be passive to the menace of hate speech because it is capable of snowballing into violence with unbearable consequences. The fight against hate speech is a collective responsibility,” the participants noted.
The communiqué posited that building a network of anti-hate speech will equally enable the society to condemn it and offer help to its victims.
The United Nations Country Director (UNIC), Mr. Roland Kayanja in his remarks expressed delight in collaborating with Penpushing Media, and urged participants to consider how social media should be regulated to prevent the spread of hate speech on various platforms they operate.
The Chairman, Editorial Board of Penpushing Media Olufunke Fadugba, in her welcome speech stated that organising the event would help journalists focus on how they contribute their quota to discouraging hate speech, stressed on the need to discourage hate speech.
The veteran journalist warned that failure to do so would, undoubtedly, affects various strata of our national fabrics, and indeed discourage Direct Foreign Investment that the country urgently needed right now.
The training featured presentations on “Understanding and Identifying Hate Speech”, “International Principles and National Responses to Hate Speech in Nigeria”, “The Role of CSOs in Countering Hate Speech in Nigeria”.
Countering Online Hate Speech through Media and Information Literacy (MIL), Hate Speech, Ethical Journalism and National Security – Navigating the Crossroads and Examining Selected Cases of Hate Speech in Nigeria” among other salient issues.
The speakers and facilitators at the training session included Olota of Ota, Oba Adeyemi Obalanlege, who is a Professor of Mass Communications; Dr Ayodele Johnson, a veteran journalist and an Associate Professor at Lead University, Ibadan and Stella Jibrin (Director Research/Documentation, Nigeria Press Council)
Others were Deacon Owolabi Oladejo (Proprietor, Metropolitan Broadcasting Services), Baba Kure Abba Jato, Commissioner for Home Affairs Information and Culture, Borno State, and Comfort Umanah, Managing Director, Redemption 1015 FM, Abak.
Meanwhile, the communiqué drafting committee included Eddy Ademosu, Oluremi Olugbenro, Femi Shodunke and Yemisi Fadairo, who were all tested media professionals.