The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) says it received 76 complaints relating to hate speeches and electoral violence from the South-South geopolitical zone.
The Acting Executive Secretary of the commission, Mr Tony Ojukwu, disclosed this at the commencement of sensitisation meeting held at the Federal High Court in Uyo on Monday.
Ojukwu said that the complaints which were being investigated would be handled in the public hearing organised by the commission from Tuesday.
He called on complainants and alleged violators to appear before the commission as scheduled.
“This public hearing is for the entire South-South; we have complaints from most of the states in the zone
“In this session, we have 76 complaints which had been investigated before and they are going to come up during this session.
“This is an opportunity to give fair hearing to both the complainants and alleged violators.
“We have chosen the approach of public hearing because of the large complaints received,’’ Ojukwu said.
The executive secretary also said that the purpose of the sensitisation was to create awareness on dangers of hate speeches and violence during election.
He urged politicians to refrain from making statements that could cause violence and divide the country as the 2019 general elections draw near.
Ojukwu explained that the whole idea of the sensitisation was to deepen the nation’s democracy and advised that campaigns toward 2019 elections must be issue based.
He said: “the purpose of the present campaign by the NHRC is to discourage use of hate speech and violence during campaigns and election activities
“For those who choose to use the tools of hate speeches and election violence, they will be investigated and prosecuted and made to account for their actions.’’
In his remarks, the Speaker of Akwa Ibom House of Assembly, Mr Onofiok Luke said that every Nigerian should condemn the use of hate speech.
Luke urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies to remain unbiased in performance of their duties.
“Most countries that are in conflict today started with hate speeches and electoral violence. As we approach 2019 elections, we must talk to ourselves and continue in the campaign against the use of hate speeches.’’
The speaker commended the NHRC for the sensitisation and urged it to take the campaign to churches, mosques and traditional institutions.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Adeyemi Ogunjemilusi in a goodwill message noted that the menace of hate speech and electoral violence could be curbed through legislation.
Ogunjemilusi, who was represented by DCP Administration, Mr Yekini Ajogun advised political actors to operate within the ambit of the law as they go about their campaigns.
He urged the NHRC to remain unbiased to make the outcome of the exercise acceptable by all.