He United Nations has warned against a rise in hate speech and misinformation ahead of the upcoming Nigerian general election.

“In Nigeria, with national elections imminent, we must be vigilant against any escalation of hate speech and disinformation, especially if tensions between political, regional or ethnic groups escalate.” Matthias Schmalesaid the UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria.

Speaking to reporters on Holocaust Remembrance Day, he urged everyone to be vigilant because words can become weapons and cause bodily harm. This alludes to how the atrocities of the Holocaust and genocides were preceded by hate speech.

Hate speech is a threat to our cherished values, to the cohesion of our societies and to the lives of the most vulnerable, especially women and girls, Schmale said.

The Internet and social networks, he added, have heightened the risks associated with hate speech and call for strengthening the resilience of young people against hateful ideologies and educating them about the dangers of misinformation.

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“I call on all stakeholders in Nigerian society to stand up and speak out against hate speech and discrimination cases. Each of us can play a role in countering this scourge and ensuring that all people enjoy the protections and rights that the United Nations upholds,” said Mr. Schmale.

Elections in Nigeria are characterized by various forms of violence, both online and offline. All happening before, during and sometimes after the elections. The run-up to elections is characterized by hate speech from various camps attempting to market their candidates and de-market others.

Nigeria is scheduled to hold its general elections on February 25 and March 11 to choose new leaders, including a new president and parliament.

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