Hate speech, drug abuse potential electoral violence triggers — Survey

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AHEAD of the 2019 general elections, a survey by CLEEN Foundation, a Civil Society Organisation (CSO), has identified hate speech, drug abuse and thuggery top triggers of electoral violence.

Dr Freedom Onuoha, the Lead Researcher and Senior Lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, made this known at the public presentation of the Regional Security Threats Assessment on Thursday in Abuja.

Onuoha said that the survey was conducted in 12 focal states of Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Borno, Ekiti, Imo, Kaduna, Osun, Plateau, Rivers and Zamfara.

“The study finds out that the use of hate speech and indecent language by political actors has the potential to trigger electoral violence.

“The growing habit of hard drug consumption in Nigeria, especially among youths, is a source of growing concern ahead of the general elections.

“The study revealed that majority of the respondents held the view that widespread availability and use of hard drugs can precipitate electoral violence in the focal states.”

Onuoha also said that the study also found that the nature of the deployment of security agents during elections and how they carried out their duties could become potential sources of electoral violence.

Furthermore, he said that the study identified partiality of security agents as one of the major factors that could cause electoral violence.

According to him, people believe that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can also carry out acts that can lead to electoral violence, citing problems associated with the distribution of voter cards among others.

Onuoha said the findings suggested the need for INEC to ensure the highest level of commitment to administrative and technical competence as well as professional integrity in the conduct of the elections.

The study underscored the need for appropriate measures to guard against the use of hate speech in the media.

It advocated for measures that would enhance professional competence of security agents during elections, including shunning the pursuit of partisan and pecuniary interests.

The findings further suggested that the media should be monitored effectively to ensure balanced reporting.

He said it also recommended youth empowerment to reduce the number of unemployed youths who out of frustration, engage in drug trafficking and consumption.

Onouha also stressed the need for political parties to promote internal democracy in the election of party officials and candidates.

Also commenting, Dr Benson Olugbuo, the Executive Director of CLEEN Foundation, said that the organisation embarked on the study to assess electoral risk factors in the six geopolitical zones ahead of the elections.

Olugbuo said that the exercise was embarked upon to identify early warning signals that could assist relevant stakeholders, especially INEC, security agents and CSOs to deploy appropriate responses. (NAN)

– Jul. 5, 2018 @ 16:05 GMT |

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