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UN to tackle hate speech in Nigeria

The United Nations system in Nigeria is developing hate speech strategy to curtail the spread of communication in speech, writing or behavior that uses discriminatory language against an individual or group on the basis of creed or status.

The strategy is a plan of action to tackle hate speech in the country using the guidance provided in the UN strategy and plan of action on Hate Speech.

The UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Matthias Schmale stated this in Abuja at an event to mark the first International Day to Counter Hate Speech.

Represented by the UN Senior Human Rights Adviser, Ajuwaa Kufuer, Mr Schmale said hate speech if unchecked might lay the foundation for intolerance, violence and widespread human rights violations.

He said hate speech contradicted all the values and principles of international human rights laws as well as undermine efforts at achieving the aim of the UN 2030 agenda without leaving anyone behind.

According to the UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, the world must not trample on freedom of speech and expression but when speech is weaponized to violate the rights of others, it must not be met with silence as this will imply acceptance.

Mr Schmale urged the Federal and State Governments, Traditional- and Faith-based leaders, Civil Society and the general public to increase their efforts at countering hate speech in line with International Human Rights law.

The Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu, expressed worry over rampant use of hate speech by politicians and religious leaders.

Mr Ojukwu stressed that addressing the menace of hate speech should be a source of great concern to all in order to prevent conflicts and advance peace and progress in the country.

Reporting by Bose Ijelekhai; Editing by Adeniyi Bakare and Tony Okerafor