The pan-Northern socio-political organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum, has cautioned politicians against the use of hate speech and thuggery against opponents ahead of the 2023 general elections in the country.
According to the ACF, the use of hate speech, threats, and thuggery are a recipe for violence in the country, warning politicians to henceforth halt their usage of vulgar languages and violence for the purpose of electioneering.
The ACF’s Secretary-General, Mallam Murtala Aliyu, made the disposition of the northern body known in a statement released to journalists in Kaduna on Sunday.
The statement, titled, “Hate Speech and Violence will be our Deaths,” also expressed concern about politicians using thugs against political opponents, urging INEC to act by imposing the “harshest” punishment on politicians who engaged in such acts.
According to the ACF, 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.
Moreover, the northern body declared that hate speech, threats, and other violent acts “pose grave danger to the unity and stability of a democratic society, the protection of human rights, and the rule of law,” adding that if left “unchecked, it can lead to acts of violence and conflict on a grand scale.”
However, the forum expressed relief following the apology of Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, over his “hostile” comment on Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, which generated tension in the land.
“In the meantime, INEC has a responsibility to act and enforce the Electoral Act as amended.” It should impose the harshest punishment possible on politicians who think achieving their personal ambitions is more important than national peace and harmony. Such individuals are unsuitable for any level of leadership.