The Pan-Northern socio-political group, Arewa Consultative Forum, on Sunday warned politicians against unleashing thugs against opponents ahead of the 2023 elections.
The group made the call in a statement issued by its General Secretary, Murtala Aliyu, in Kaduna.
The ACF warned politicians to stop using foul language and violence during the electioneering process and urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to take action by punishing such politicians.
The pockets of violence recorded in many parts of the country since the campaign kicked off in September have heightened fears about the conduct of the elections.
The statement read: “Although Nigeria is already facing severe life-threatening challenges arising from lack of security and growing economic crises, it would seem that there are many desperate political leaders and other self-appointed community champions that will not hesitate to add more fuel to the fire.
“Shamefully, most are driven by blind ambition or plain hatred. No one can fail to notice the alarming rise of tension and lawlessness as the election campaigns and contests gather pace. There are reports that some politicians are engaging thugs and violent persons to attack their opponents, spreading terror and fear everywhere.
“Of much greater concern, however, is the resort to hate speech, insults and threats of violence being issued by political leaders, including by state governors. They seem to be pathetically unaware that the distance between hate speeches and violence, even genocide, is a very short one.
“Hate speech, for whatever reason, covers many forms of expression but all incite, promote or justify hatred, violence and discrimination against an individual or group of people.
“It poses a grave danger to the unity and stability of a democratic society, protection of human rights, and the rule of law. Unchecked, it can lead to acts of violence and conflict on a grand scale.”
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