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Online hate speech has been identified as catalyst of conflict

By Hassan Umar Shallpella

 Worried with the havoc caused by online hate speech in the society, the PeaceTech Lab and Centre for Information and Technology Development (CITAD) recently organized 3 day workshop for Journalists and Civil Society Organizations tagged ‘PeaceTech Exchange for combating hate speech in Nigeria” held at Ventures Park Abuja.

Participants drawn from across Nigeria were taught how to use modern technology in combating hate speech online so as to have a free online hate speech society that will improve the peaceful coexistence among various segments of people in Nigeria.

Theo Dolan, Director Peacemedia and Peacetech Lab Africa said the essence of the workshop is to train participants on how to use media technology in preventing violence and building peace in Nigeria as the country is heading for 2019 general election.

He urged the participants to utilize the knowledge acquired for the betterment of the country.

Declaring the workshop open, the Chairman and CEO of Channels Television Mr. John Momoh, while commending the organizers for the foresight and expressed optimism that the workshop will go a long way in countering online hate speech in Nigeria which has been a major challenge to the country and will impact positively on the lives of young people.

Momoh also expressed dismay with the attitude of some media outfits that disseminate news and hate speech for their selfish gain without minding its consequences and urged them to refrain from using words that are capable of breaching the peace.

“We should stop using the word Fulani herdsmen in our reportage because other criminals that are not Fulani engage in cattle rustling.” He said

He said that Nigeria has been divided due to political, ethnic and religious differences instead of using religion and culture to bring people together.

Momoh stated that hate speech hurt and can destroy country and attributed the causes of conflict in the society to lack of understanding, misinterpretation and intolerance.

In his remark, Yunusa Zakari Ya’u, the Executive Director of CITAD, said participants would be train on tracking, monitoring and combating hate speech online, maintained that CITAD has been working with other partners to combat hate speech among young ones who uses social media frequently so as to disabuse their minds from using hate speech on anything capable of causing violence in Nigeria.

Ya’u  noted that the use of technology tools in combating hate become necessary following the damage hate speech has done to the country especially during previous elections, maintained that peace can only prevail in a hate speech free country .

He hoped that the participants who sue the knowledge gained so as to reduce hate speech online that has been a catalyst of conflict in the country.

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