Agbese, Anya, Oloja, Ekpu Flay Hate Speech Ahead Of 2019 Polls

As 2019 elections draw nearer, some columnists’ yesterday unanimously condemned hate speech, insisting the media must be fair and non-partisan in its reportage.They spoke at the inaugural lecture of the League of Nigeria Columnists in Lagos, organised by Centre for International Advanced and Professional Studies.

Guest Speaker, Dan Agbese, who delivered the lecture on hate speech, said it does not just happen. It is incubated and given expression when social circumstances make the resort to it possible, even if inadvisable.

He said hate speech is a dangerous product of profiling, which is used in inter and intra racial and ethnic groups, even as profiling could be seemed to be a mild joke.

According to him, for anything to qualify as hate speech, it must be explicitly or implicitly directed at persons or group of persons who are different from in terms of race, ethnicity religion or sexual orientation.

He added that it is intended to cause social, racial, ethnic or religious disharmony and incite violence at persons, or group of persons; it must include verbal and non-verbal communication;

Hate speech, he added, must be calculated to injure or traumatise persons, or groups of persons for the purposes of causing the community in which they reside, to deny them their basic human rights and entitlements.

He restated that anti hate speech legislations alone couldn’t stop hate speech and sufficiently protect minority rights anywhere and everywhere.

Another columnist, Prof. Anya O Anya, who was the chairman of the event, urged wielders of the pen to be good moral agents and not only columnists.

The Guardian columnists, Mr. Martins Oloja, stressed the need for journalists to get the facts before going to press, adding that truths are always sacred.

Also, Tola Adeniyi described columnists as rare breed, even as no other profession wields influence as columnists.

On his part, Mr. Ray Ekpu supported that anti hate speech legislation is not enough, because there is also the need for enforcement.

The columnists agreed that hate speech could be detrimental to the social political and economic development of the nation.