The Centre for Peace and Development (CEPAD) of Veritas University, Abuja on Wednesday, 18th July, 2018 held the maiden edition of its Roundtable Discussion Series at the Basement Hall of the University Chapel. The theme of the Roundtable Discussion: "Curbing Hate Speech in Nigeria's Public Space" centered on the re-emergence of hate speech in Nigeria and its negative implications.
Present at the event were the Vice-Chancellor of Veritas University, Prof. Michael Kwanashie and other Principal Officers and members of the University Senate; Traditional Rulers from the community; representatives of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN); representatives of various Media Organizations; representatives of various Civil Organizations including CAFOD; representatives of security agencies; students and the University Community. The occasion also included the unveiling of the Centre's journal- PACEM: Journal of Peace and Development.
In his opening remarks, the Vice-Chancellor of Veritas University, Prof. Michael Kwanashie acknowledged the need to discuss the role of emerging technologies and fake news, and the growing menace of hate speech. The Director of CEPAD, Rev. Fr. Dr. Innocent Jooji stated that the objectives of the Roundtable was to appraise the operational definition of hate speech in its entirety, especially as enshrined in Nigeria's legal jurisprudence and to identify clear incidences or cases of hate speech in Nigeria as well as identify means of eradicating hate speech from Nigeria's public space.
The Discussants at the Roundtable included Mr. Clement Nwankwo, Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, Abuja and Mr. Martins Oloja, Editor in Chief, Guardian Newspaper. Others were Prof. Mnguember Vicky Sylvester, of the Department of English, University of Abuja as well as Elder (Mrs.) Justina Mike Ngwobia.
At the end of the programme a communique was released, and amongst its recommendations, CEPAD called for action by government officials to curb the use of provocative words or language in their speech and activities and for government to be honest when addressing issues of public interest so as to build up trust and integrity with the citizens. CEPAD further called on the Ministry of Education to introduce in schools (primary, secondary and tertiary) curriculum that addresses the consequences of hate speech. The national orientation agency was also called upon to be alive in its mandate as an agency of national unity to carryout civic enlightenment campaigns to eradicate hate speech and promote national unity.
The programme was sponsored by the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD).