The Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), a front-line advocacy group campaigning against hate speech, has condemned comments by Abdullahi Abbas, chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), who described the March 23 supplementary elections in Kano state as a “do-or-die” affair.
In the short video, the party chairman also assures supporters his party would provide maximum protection for its members even if it means ensuring the dismissal of police officers who try to restore order.
Speaking in Hausa, he said his listeners should stand against any opposition that comes their way during the elections.
“There is every possibility that you can be arrested. But let me tell you; before you get to the police station we will make sure you are released and the police that arrested you will likely lose his job.
“We are going to give you every protection that is required. This election is a matter of do or die for us. We must win this election,” Mr Abbas had said.
However, in a statement CITAD urged politicians, especially those in the major parties the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to exercise caution and avoid inciting the public ahead of the re-run polls.
“As an organization that works in the area of peacebuilding, the Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) is greatly concerned with this bad development.
“Very disturbing in this respect is the viral 58 seconds video clip of Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Hon. Abdullahi Abbas addressing youth in a clear inciting and dangerous manner on the coming election.
“The remarks constitute serious danger to the election and period beyond as they licensed the listening youth to beat up anybody they so wish because soldiers and police will do nothing to them.
“The second danger is the reiteration of Hon. Abbas’s earlier statement that the election will be won by them either in chaos or conflict. We regrettably condemn these remarks,” the statement signed by Hamza Ibrahim read.
The group added that it is unfortunate that inciting comments keep increasing, raising the potential for disturbing peace in the state.
“These remarks are highly disturbing amidst a fragile situation of election cancellation and plan for rerun by the national electoral body.
“Elections come and go, therefore, no citizen or body no matter how highly placed should be allowed to jeopardize it’s conduct if our democracy is to be safeguarded and strengthened”.
CITAD therefore recommended steps that should be taken by stake holders in order to forestall the negative consequences of hate speech and incitement.
In particular, no election should cost the life anyone in the state. It against this background that CITAD recommends the following:
1. Youth must understand the hope society places in them and resist any provocation to cause chaos before, during and after the rerun election.
2. We call on elders of Kano to take the matter with seriousness it deserves and immediately take necessary actions to ensure the planned election takes place peacefully and violence does not occur before, during and after the election.
3. We urge traditional and religious leaders, business community, academic community, etc to greatly help in making the election peaceful.
4. The Kano Election Peace Committee should continue to engage political actors and relevant stakeholders across the state to ensure peace reigns in the state.
5. Politicians, their supporters/followers and youth should be orderly and avoid hate speech or spreading fake news either online or offline.
6. We urge security agents to be professional and neutral in the discharge of their duties.
7. Media and members civil society groups should support and strengthen awareness creation on peaceful conduct of the election.
8. We urge professionals from different disciplines and all members of the society to also support the peaceful conduct of the rerun.
Coordinator, Curbing Hate and Dangerous Speech Project,
Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD).
14th March, 2019.