The National Human Rights Commission (NHR) has called on the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari respectively to refrain from making statements capable of inciting their followers to violence.
The commission decried the alarming rate of hate speeches that have characterised electioneering campaigns and political commentaries in the country ahead of the 2015 Polls.
The Chairman of the Governing Council of the commission, Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, made the call at a media roundtable to stop the use of hate speech during campaign.
He warned that except leaders of political parties and candidates made delineate efforts to call their followers to order, violence could be inevitable after the election.
He said: “We are going into election. We are not going for war. And we must prove that we can do this and come out better and stronger as a nation.”
He urged Nigerians to respect the choices of others in the events leading to the 2015 polls.
He pointed out that Nigeria had already lost too many lives to insurgency and could not afford to lose any of its citizens to post election violence.
He said the media were critical in ensuring that hate speech were not published. He therefore called on media practitioners to come forth with ideas on how to stop publication of hate speech.
Odinkalu also urged the Nigerian media to renew it’s commitment to its social responsibility by ensuring that it refuses to publish or broadcast any statement that has any semblance of the hate speech.
He said that it was a violation of section 95 (2) of the Electoral Act for anyone to use the pulpilt to preach in support of a political party or a candidate.
In this wise, Odinkalu said that the statements made by Reverend Father Francis Mbaka when the First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan visited her and when he castigated the president, Jonathan.
Odinkalu also castigated the Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose for the advertorial on Buhari and other past heads of state from the north.
In his view, the advert was capable of inciting violence by a section of the country even as he said that such conduct was unbecoming of a governor.
Odinkalu appealed to all Nigerians to shun violence so as to prove to the world that Nigerians were civilised people.
Earlier, the commission’s Executive Secretary, Prof Bem Angwe urged the media to continue to do the noble work of informing the masses without allowing anyone use its platforms for hate speeches.