Facebook Bans ‘Dangerous’ Rohingya Militant Group

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Facebook said it has banned a Rohingya militant group from its site, designating it a ‘dangerous organisation as information on the deepening crisis is muddied by claims, counter-claims and hate speech on social media.

The social network is a key tool in the information war taking place over violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, which has driven more than 420,000 Rohingya Muslims from the country and sparked UN accusations of military-led “ethnic cleansing”.

Rohingya activists have used the platform to post alleged scenes of brutality from the conflict zone, where humanitarian and media access is severely restricted, while the army and government deliver near-daily updates on the crisis.

A Facebook spokeswoman told AFP late Wednesday it was not requested by the government to bar the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which remains active on Twitter.

The spokeswoman added that the move was in line with its policy of prohibiting violent groups from its site.

The latest violence in Rahkine erupted after a series of deadly ARSA attacks on military posts in August.

The army has been blamed for launching a crackdown in response that has forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, along with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Hindus, into neighbouring Bangladesh.

The spokeswoman said Facebook was aware that Rohingya activists were using the site to draw attention to the violence, and that it intended to allow non-graphic content to remain online.

Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has played down claims of atrocities and blamed “a huge iceberg of misinformation” for complicating the conflict.

She has faced mounting criticism from global leaders over what the United Nations has called a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” against Rohingya Muslims.

Britain sent back five Myanmar army officers from a training session this week, “on account of the current situation in Rakhine”, Myanmar’s army said on Facebook late Wednesday.

The move comes amid a mounting diplomatic spat between the two countries, with Britain saying Wednesday it had suspended all educational training courses for the Myanmar military over concerns of rights abuses in Rakhine state.

Rohingyas are widely reviled in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where they are considered illegal ‘Bengali’ immigrants brought in from modern-day Bangladesh during British colonial rule.

There were an estimated 1.1 million Rohingyas in Rakhine state before the current crisis, though nearly half have fled into Bangladesh where they are cramped into ill-equipped camps.


Police Boss Asks Officers To Curb Hate Speech

Police Boss Warns Officers Against Corrupt Practices
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Officers of the Nigeria Police Force have been asked to do everything in their power to discourage hate speech among the people in the course of carrying out their duties.

The directive was contained in a message from the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to graduating officers of the Police Staff College in Jos, the Plateau State capital.

In his address on Wednesday, the police boss, who was represented at the event by the Commandant of the College, AIG Dorothy Gimba, asked officers to promote ideas that would bring unity, even among other security agencies.

He said police officers, as law enforcement agents, are charged to discourage hate speeches among the polity in the course of executing their constitutional responsibilities.

The IGP also emphasised the importance of training and retraining as a relevant tool for the enhancement of personnel performance, service delivery and effectiveness of the Force.

Forty-seven police officers of the rank of superintendent and deputy superintendent successfully completed the operational leadership and command course at the College.

Course participants were exposed to different fields of policing ranging from respect for rule of law and human rights; management, leadership and human behaviours; intelligence led policing; and community partnership and inter-agency cooperation.

They were also trained in the areas of cybercrime as well as global legal development and jurisdiction to update their knowledge on modern day policing and improved performance towards the much-desired community and intelligence policing.

I Don’t Know If Government Is Monitoring Calls Of Nigerians – Garba Shehu

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As concerns grow over whether the government is actually monitoring the activities of Nigerians on the social media, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity has said he doesn’t know if calls are being monitored.

“I am not aware of that,” Mr Garba Shehu when asked, during an appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today, if the government was monitoring the calls of Nigerians.

He, however, shared the government’s concern about the misuse of the Internet.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in his national broadcast on Monday last week said some of the comments and discussions on the social media while he was away on medical vacation were distressing.

The following day, the Director of Defence Information, Major-General John Enenche, told Channels Television that the activities of Nigerians on the social media were being monitored for anti-government, anti-military and anti-security, sparking outrage among Nigerians on the social media and beyond.

Although Mr Shehu is “not aware” of the monitoring of calls, he is quick to point out that the Internet now feeds extremism.

“I know that this country, in fact, the whole world has a big problem with balancing free speech and what we call in this country hate speech,” he said.

“It has many faces depending on which country you are dealing with. In most of these European countries, (and) America, they are dealing with Islamic terror. In America, white extremism and all of that. All of it fed substantially by the Internet.”

Consequently, he does not believe it should be a big deal if there is some form of monitoring going on.

He said, “I believe that people can be justified. A lot of countries are taking notes. If Nigeria does it, I don’t know. I’m in a position to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. But if it happens in this country, it is not extraordinary, it is not unusual. Everybody is interested. Look, this thing about international terrorism is big and nobody is leaving it to chances.”

The Presidential aide also has no problem with military monitoring the social media as long as it is part of their “national security duties”.

He also defended the President for his concern about the use of the social media for promoting extremism.

Chief Of Air Staff Warns Against Use Of Social Media For Hate Speeches

Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar

The Chief of Air Staff has warned against the use of the social media for promoting hate speeches and spreading falsehood.

Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar said at a workshop on information management for public relations officers in the Nigerian Air Force on Tuesday that using the social media that way would jeopardise the development of the country.

“We are all not unaware of the use of social media by some elements to spread falsehood in addition to promoting hate speeches, violence, anarchy, and confusion in our society,” he said.
“The message of hate and violence does not augur well for the development of our great nation. I, therefore, implore all relevant stakeholders to focus on the use of the social media to inform, educate and entertain as originally intended.”

His comments come a day after President Muhammadu Buhari said in a national broadcast that some of the comments made by Nigerians on the social media in his absence crossed the line and left him distressed.

Hate Speech Will Be Considered An Act Of Terrorism, Says Osinbajo

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The Federal Government has drawn the line on hate speech, warning that not only will it rejected, it will henceforth be considered an act of terrorism.

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo said this today in Abuja at the opening of the National Economic Council Summit.

Professor Osinbajo’s comments come after months of regional and ethnic tensions, heightened by the quit notice given to Igbos by northern youth groups in reaction to secessionist agitations in the South East.

Warning that hate speech poses a grave danger to nations and the world, the Acting President said, “Silence in such situations can only be seen as an endorsement.

“Hate speech and the promotion of the same through history from Nazi Germany and the extermination of Jews to the Rwandan genocide succeeded in achieving their barbarous ends by the silence of influential voices.

“The silence of leaders at this time – in our country- will be a grave disservice to our country, its peace and its future.”

There has been a rise in calls for hate speech to be tackled decisively in the country and on Tuesday (August 15), the Senate promised to speed up the passage of two bills to tackle hate speech and jungle justice.


Senate Promises Quick Passage Of Anti-Hate Speech, Jungle Justice Bills

Senate President, Bukola Saraki says the Upper Chamber is ready to give the Hate Speech Bill accelerated consideration when it is presented by the Executive.

This according to him is due to the rising tensions in the polity.

Dr Saraki made this known in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu.

He stated that the passage of Bills to mitigate hate speeches and jungle justice will comprise a major part of the Senate’s social impact agenda when it resumes in September.

“At this point in time, when people are heating up the political and social space with their utterances, the Hate Speech Bill will help to mitigate against verbal attacks or expressions against individuals or groups on the basis of ethnicity, religion, and even gender.”

He stressed further that this would send a clear message with accompanying punitive measures to people who are fond of distasteful comments that hurt, offend and provoke retaliation.

Senator Saraki also stated that the Anti-Jungle Justice Bill which is sponsored by Senator Dino Melaye will also help to curtail, protect and prohibit Nigerians across the country from meting out extra-judicial justice to perceived offenders without recourse to statutory legal channels.

“There have been many cases of extrajudicial executions across the nation. We all remember the “Aluu Four” incident, and several other notorious cases of phone and food thieves being set ablaze. We cannot have a situation where people feel that they can take the law into their hands,” Saraki said, “Therefore, we must put in place careful stopgaps and penal measures to protect the sanctity of our communities.”

Furthermore, he noted that the Committee on Judiciary and the Rules and Business Committees of the Senate would work to ensure that the Anti-Jungle Justice Bill is quickly passed and sent to the House of Representatives for concurrence.

NOA Warns Nigerians Against Hate Speech

NOA Warns Nigerians Against Promoting Hate Speech

The National Orientation Agency (NOA) has warned promoters of hate speech to desist from making comments capable of plunging Nigeria into another civil war.

The Director-General of NOA, Dr. Garba Abari, gave the warning on Thursday at a news conference in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

He, however, appealed to all Nigerians to promote national cohesion, love and unity in order to sustain the peaceful development of the country.

The NOA boss also directed all state directorates, community orientation and mobilisation officers of the agency to commence ‎peace building sensitisation and advocacy visit to settler communities to reassure them of government’s commitment to their safety and security.

He explained that the directive was part of efforts to address concerns arising from agitations that have led to illegal quit orders and counter-orders issued to some ethnic groups.

The warning from the agency comes a day after the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr John Odigie-Oyegun, described perpetrators of hate speeches as worse than terrorists.

Mr Odigie-Oyegun, who said this on Wednesday in a statement, condemned an audio recording being purportedly circulated as “dangerous and despicable”.

He, therefore, called on security agencies to promptly apprehend those behind the audio recording and other similar acts irrespective of who they are.

Hate Speech Worse Than Terrorism, Says Oyegun

Hate Speech Worse Than Terrorism, Says Oyegun
File Photo: John Odigie-Oyegun

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr John Odigie-Oyegun, has described perpetrators of hate speeches as worse than terrorists.

Mr Odigie-Oyegun said this on Wednesday in a statement issued by the Assistant Director of Publicity, APC, Mr Edegbe Odemwingie.

The statement was in reaction to an audio recording being circulated especially in the Northern region of the country, which the APC National Chairman described as “dangerous and despicable”.

Merchants of Hate

He, therefore, called on security agencies to promptly apprehend those behind the audio recording and other similar acts irrespective of who they are.

“Every ethnic-based crises of whatever nature had started with hate speech. When people within the same country frame and define one another in a manner intended to set them up for violent attack, then they are setting themselves up for a major disaster. The ‘merchants of hate’ don’t know or just don’t care about the consequences of the fire they are stoking in the country, but they have the experiences of other countries to learn from; Rwanda remains a classic example on our continent.

“However, even as terrible as Rwanda was, it would be nothing compared to what could happen if a huge country like Nigeria is allowed to fall into the disaster of hate-driven conflict. This is why we must all rise, regardless of our political differences and condemn these ugly and shameful acts with one voice,” he said.

Odigie-Oyegun noted that although ethnic distrust was not new in the country, the rising wave of hate speech as well as negative religious and ethnic utterance and actions, as being experienced, was part of the fallouts of the 2015 presidential election.

“Anyone participating in an election knows that there could only be two outcomes – you win or you lose; when you lose, you prepare for the next election. What we have seen, however, is that since 2015, some politicians and political groups have carried on as if they wish the country itself to collapse just because they are no longer in power. This is tragic indeed.”

The APC Chairman consequently urged the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to direct the security agencies to ensure that those behind the odious acts were promptly arrested and brought to justice.

“We cannot sit idle and watch a few disgruntled individuals to destroy our democracy, and God forbids, the nation that we all fought hard to achieve and build,” he noted.

Channels Academy Partners Peace Agency To Tackle Hate Speech

Channels Academy Partners Peace Agency To Tackle Hate Speech

A growing source of concern that divides people and societies is the use of hate speech through the social and mainstream media.

It is a trend Channels Academy hopes to check in the coming days, working in partnership with the Peace Media and Peace Tech Lab.

The Director of the Peace Media and Peace Tech Lab, Theo Dolan, who was at the launch of the Channels Academy in Abuja, said his organisation would support the academy’s curriculum.

“With the launch of the Channels (journalism) Academy, we can integrate hate speech training into the academy’s curriculum and that is what we are hoping to do. We’ll be in discussions about that and I think this is something that professional media can learn more about as well,” he said.

Mr Dolan lamented that some opinion columnists sometimes engage in the use hate speech, saying: “It is obviously very dangerous, especially when it’s coming through the mainstream media”.

He noted further that its trend can be reduced through government and individual efforts.

“There needs to be an effective liaison place to govern hate speech and there has to be a proper reinforcement, that often is lacking. I think the most effective way to address hate speech on social media is for social media users to address it either by reporting instances to the technology companies or by taking steps themselves; for example shaming those people (in large groups) who are actually perpetrating hate speech,” said Dolan.