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Hate Speech, Fake News Feeding Off Our Existing Prejudices — Popular Bishop Says

Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Kukah, has called on all Nigerians to disseminate information responsibly to curb the menace of hate speech, fake news, and its resultant effects.

Kukah said this on Tuesday at a colloquium with the theme ‘Fake News and Hate Speech’ held at the National Open University of Nigeria, Abuja.

Kukah, a lead discussant at the Colloquium, described fake news “as multi-layers of conversations which are feeding off of our already existing prejudices”, urging every Nigerian to become information gatekeepers.

He said: “People in a society live by comparing their conditions with those of others. When they perceive that others are benefiting better than them, the assumption is that they are worse off thereby, setting the society on an endless antagonism.

“In a state of war, war strategists actually say that disinformation is a legitimate tool of war.”

Kukah advised the public, particularly media practitioners to avoid any reportage that ‘distracts’ and misleads the society.

“These are not easy times we are in; there are information out there with intent to distract but we must be more discerning.“We can banish hate speech by presenting the ordinary citizens with an alternative narrative,” he said.

The keynote speaker, Chief Executive of Newswatch Now, Ray Epku said some key ingredients that fuel hate speech are religion, politics, and ethnicity.

“It is obvious that fake news published either by digital or mainstream media can lead to hate speech; hate speech can lead to violence or discrimination and hostility,” he said.

Other discussants were Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, Reuben Abati, Funke Egbemode, Senator Chris Anyawu, and Mahmud Jega.

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