Text of the Communiqu issued at the end of two-day Stakeholders
Workshop on Hate Speech and Media in Nigeria held at Grand Pela Hotel and Suites, Abuja, July 10-11, 2018.
For two days, academics, journalists, broadcasters and civil society activists with diverse backgrounds met to discuss issues relating to hate speech and assorted media genres and professionals.
Four papers were presented in addition to two different panels as well as a robust general house discussion on issues that arose as the workshop progressed.
The workshop observed as follows:
1) Hate speech could emanate readily from the various divides in the society ranging from ethnic, religious, social to economic differences of individuals and groups. This could even deepen with subdivisions into smaller units implying that it is difficult to predict its end.
2) Hate speech can provoke negative reactions almost instantaneously as it fuels ethnic, religious and some other conflicts in the society and this could degenerate to violence.
3) Media related challenges that fuel conflict range from mediaâ€™s disregard for diversity, undue commercialization, poor knowledge of relevant laws, history and culture as well as current affairs, ownership influence to provincialisation of education of relevant academics.
4) Paucity of logistics and undue internal pressure constitute another set of problems to good performance of the media.
5) Broadcast media in Nigeria, especially those owned by state governments, often run foul of cautionary measures especially during elections, thus presenting rather bad examples to their counterparts in the private sector.
6) Media genres of the print and broadcast are hardly different again with the inception of the internet as the conventional media ceaselessly seek to extend their operations and influence to the realms of social media.
7) The Cybercrime Advisory Council provided for by the Cybercrime Act of 2015 is rather exclusive particularly of the youths in spite of the reckoning enjoyed by the youths with the UN in relation to Internet issues as manifest in the annual rituals of the Internet Governance Forum, IGF.
The workshop subsequently recommended as follows:
1) Different ethnic groups should seek to tolerate their respective cultural differences to enable all to cohabit peacefully.
2) It is important that civil society groups begin to recognize the need to popularize the knowledge of the concept of hate speech for the benefit of the members of the general public.
3) Professionalism in the mainstream media is important hence the need for training and retraining of media personnel as, for instance, may be initiated by CITAD in conjunction with other stakeholders.
4) It is important to accord proper attention to the welfare of media personnel so that their work could be more factual and evidence based
5) The Nigerian Press Organisation, NPO, and other similar bodies that used to have reasonable influence on media organizations need to liberalise to accommodate emerging players like members of Guild of Corporate Online Publishers, GOCOP, and Online Publishers of Nigeria, OPAN.
6) Develop a voluntary code of conduct for bloggers and encourage widespread dissemination
7) Government should consider the repealing of the Cybercrime Act of 2015 to reform the Cybercrime Advisory Council to accommodate youths in line with the vision of the UN.
8) Journalism training institutions need to introduce courses on conflict sensitive reporting, and universities and other tertiary institutions offering journalism training should introduce the course right from 100 level.
9) The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) should be made autonomous and independent agency
10) Media organizations and bodies should punish and sanction their staff and members who engage in promoting hate speech.
11) Public awareness need to be enhanced to educate people on getting and sharing information on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WhastApp, Instagram, etc.
12) Civil society organizations should monitor hate speech and put pressure on media regulatory agencies to punish media houses that allow hate speech in their contents.
13) Journalists should prioritize write-ups that promote national unity, cohesion and tolerance and must not give room for hate speech
i. Hamza Ibrahim-Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD).
ii. Dr. Tunde Musbahu Akanni-Lagos State University (LASU)
iii. Chinedu Christopher Gbulie-Womenâ€™s Right Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA)
iv. Onyekachi Eke-Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC)