Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah , says stigmatizing and demonizing herdsmen, especially those of the Fulani extraction, could lead to a breakout of violence in the country.
Matthew Kukah raised the alarm on Tuesday at a colloquium on fake news and hate speech organised by the Olusegun Obasanjo Centre for African Studies, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) in Abuja.
He said hate speech often precedes any genocide experienced in history citing countries that such has led to genocide.
He said years back it was the Igbo that were labelled which subsequently led to the Nigerian civil war between 1967 and 1970.
Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese noted that the advice became pertinent following incessant attacks in the country that were concluded to have been committed by suspected herdsmen whom some tag Fulani even without an investigation
Citing the controversy around the picture of herdsmen used on the Nigerian passport booklets, Bishop Kukah asked why the focus was on the herdsmen when there are symbols of other ethnic groups on the passport booklets.
According to him, “When I look at my passport this morning, it has the coat of arm and map of Nigeria. Then right in front of the data page where all my information is, I have the Bini. I am not a Bini man, but I am eminently proud of this. I didn’t even know it was here because I had to go through the passport page by page.’’
He added, “When I opened the passport the first thing I saw was Zuma Rock, then I see Tiv dancers. Who gave them permission to put Tiv dancers? Then I got to the next page before I came to this poor Fulani man who is standing with his cows.
He challenged the media to change the narratives by embarking on peacebuilding.
He urged Media professionals to choose who to give audience to by avoiding persons who propagate hate and mischief.
He also urged Nigerians to be each other’s keeper and avoid ethnoreligious profiling in dealing with each other.
On her part, Publisher of TSM Magazine, Senator Chris Anyanwu said fake news at times set agenda when the lies are spread persistently.
She urged Journalists to mostly fact-check their stories before publishing to address the issue of fake news.
Those in attendance include National Open University of Nigeria Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Abdallah Uba Adamu, Ray Ekpu, Dan Agbese, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, Dr Reuben Abati and Funke Egbemode