2023 elections: ACF warns politicians against provocative statements


The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) says hate speech will threaten the peaceful conduct of the 2023 elections.


In a statement issued on Sunday, Murtala Aliyu, the forum’s secretary-general, asked the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that politicians who engage in hate speech get the “harshest punishment”.


Aliyu explained that hate speech in addition to the nation’s security and economic challenges is like “adding fuel to the fire”.


“Although Nigeria is already facing severe life-threatening challenges arising from lack of security and the growing economic crises, it would seem that there are many desperate political leaders and other self-appointed community champions that will not hesitate to add more fuel to the fire,” the statement reads.


Aliyu said most politicians are driven by blind ambition or plain hatred, hence they sometimes fail to notice the alarming rise in tension and lawlessness as the electioneering campaign gathers momentum.


He also mentioned that some politicians are willing to engage thugs to attack their opponents, spreading terror and fear.


“Of much greater concern, however, is the resort to hate speech, insults and threats of violence being issued by the political leaders, including state governors.


 “They seem to be pathetically unaware that the distance between hate speech and violence, even genocide, is a very short one. Hate speech, for whatever reason, covers many forms of expression but all incite, promote or justify hatred, violence and discrimination against an individual or group of people. It poses grave danger to the unity and stability of a democratic society, protection of human rights and the rule of law,” he said.


According to Aliyu, the forum was relieved to receive the apology of Samuel Ortom, governor of Benue state, following his recent comment on Atiku Abubakar, adding that the amended electoral act, prescribed heavy punishment for such infraction.


“The fact that hate speeches and acts of violence and aggression are rife in this campaign season can only mean that the laws are not being enforced. This hasn’t come as a  surprise because the National Assembly has so far chosen not to enact the law that will see to the birth of the  Electoral Offences Tribunal,” he said.


The forum urged leaders at all levels to exercise restraint in their utterances, so the country can have a peaceful election and transition of government.

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