On October, 20, 2015, the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) Kano, with support from the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Program (NSRP), hosted a one-day media sensitization program on hate and dangerous speech with journalists and other media stakeholders form the South West geopolitical zone in Lagos.
The event which was held at the International Press Centre (IPC) in Ogba, Ikeja was attended by amongst others, the director of the International Press Centre, chairman Lagos State council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ); the regional director (Lagos) of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC); as well as the deputy program manager of the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Program (NSRP).
The event had in attendance journalists from over 40 media organizations including Thisday, Guardian, Vanguard, Radio Nigeria, Leadership, and TV Continental, amongst others.
1st Presentation: Understanding Dangerous and Hate Speech
In his presentation, Understanding Dangerous and Hate Speech, Abdulganiyu Rufai, CITAD’s program officer in charge of peace projects described the social media, which is a means of communication that is open to everyone, as purveyors of problems. He said the social media as a platform had security implications including being used for spreading hate and dangerous speech; being used by those recruiting youth into violent engagements; as well as its being used for identity theft and impersonation to cause confusion and defraud people
Speaking on the Benesch framework of identifying hate and dangerous speech he said the 5 factors for identifying hate speech were: the speaker and his/her influence over a given audience; a receptive audience subject to incitement by speaker; speech content understood as a call to violence; social and historical context of the speech; as well as medium of disseminating speech, including language.
He added that over the last three years, CITAD has been involved in working on social media on three different themes including social media for peace campaign; monitoring and countering of hate speech; as well as developing of cattle rustling tracking information system (catris)
2nd Presentation: Hate Speech and Media Reporting
Speaking on Hate Speech and Media Monitoring, Dr Akintunde Akanni of the Department of Journalism at Lagos State University said although Nigeria’s constitution allows for free speech and the country was signatory to various international instruments on free speech, there was need for a clear line to be drawn between free speech as well as hate and dangerous speech. He called on journalists to always be conflict sensitive in their reporting and always carry out rigorous research before publishing/ broadcasting any information.
Lanre Arogundade, IPC
Speaking during the discussion session, Lanre Arogundade, the director of the International Press Centre, IPC, urged presenters of TV/ radio programs to always get in touch with law enforcement agents, media regulators to counter hate/ dangerous speeches aired on their programs. He called on CITAD to extend its monitoring of hate and dangerous speeches from social media platforms to traditional media platforms particularly vernacular radio and TV stations as well as publications.
Mrs Bunmi Cole, NBC
In her comments, Mrs Bunmi Cole, the Lagos regional director of the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) called on journalists to adhere to the principles of responsible journalism and abide by the guidelines of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code (NBC) which was put together by broadcasting stakeholders in Nigeria. She stated that the Nigeria Broadcasting Code was being reviewed adding that all radio and TV programs in Nigeria must adhere to the principles of quality broadcasting enshrined in it, which she said was also the primary mandate of the NBC.
‘Deji Elumuye, NUJ
In his comment, the chairman of the Lagos State council of the Nigeria Union Journalists (NUJ) Mr ‘Deji Elumuye called on journalists to always imbibe the principles and ethics of their profession by avoiding the dissemination of hate and dangerous speech on their radio and TV programs as well as publications. He spoke on his Council’s effort towards ensuring better welfare packages for journalists working for different media organizations in Lagos State to enhance professionalism in their work.
Priscilla Ankut, NSRP
While delivering the closing remarks, Ms Priscilla Ankut, the deputy programme manager of the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Program (NSRP) thanked everyone for their participation in the program describing the discussions as “frank and enthusiastic” adding that NSRP looked forward to further engagements regarding countering of hate and dangerous speech in the media with journalists in Lagos.
At the end of the program the following resolutions were made by participants at the media sensitization program;
- There is need for a clear line to be drawn between hate and dangerous speech
- Hate and dangerous speech tend to sell more quickly on the social media
- There is a tendency for hate and dangerous speech disseminators who are mostly youth to leave social media platforms that have become populated by mature minds for newer social media platforms on which they continue to disseminate hate and dangerous speeches.
- Journalists’ reporting are being influenced by their biases hence the tendency to spread hate and dangerous speeches on traditional media platforms.
- Journalists seem to underestimate the powerful influence of the media in inciting the people hence the tendency to disseminate hate and dangerous speech
- Journalists are not equipped with conflict sensitive communication skills which is also responsible for hate and dangerous speech in the media
- For Journalists to avoid hate and dangerous speeches they must learn to be above their biases and sentiments in the course of their reportorial activities
- Journalists including radio and TV presenters should understand the power of the media in influencing people’s thinking as well as the way people react to sensitive issues.
- Journalists must always adhere to the principles of responsible and ethical journalism to be able to avoid the dissemination of hate and dangerous speech
- Journalists must always try to balance their reporting by embarking on research reporting
- CITAD and the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Program (NSRP) should organize more such sensitization programs to keep media stakeholders on their toes
- The NBC should continuously sensitize advertising practitioners as well as religious leaders on hate and dangerous speech
- Journalists including TV and radio presenters should always get hate and dangerous speeches disseminated by influential speakers countered by equally influential speakers
- Media organizations should always counter hate and dangerous speeches published/ aired on their networks.
- Journalists including TV and radio presenters should always get law enforcement agents, media regulators to counter hate and dangerous speech broadcast on their platforms
- CITAD should extend its monitoring of hate and dangerous speech to the traditional media – beyond the social media
- Journalists including radio and TV presenters need to be trained on conflict sensitive re