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1 Oct 2017

PRESS RELEASE! AGAINST HATE SPEECH FOR NATIONAL UNITY: NGWomen4Peace

AGAINST HATE SPEECH FOR NATIONAL UNITY: NGWomen4Peace

#WhiteBlouseDay

Benue State Chapter Press Release

PRESS DIALOUGE, DE-ESCALATION, WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP “No Be Fight”

It is yet another Independence Day Anniversary of Our Great country Nigeria. The 2017 celebration is unique as we the mass of Nigerian women raise a common voice to promote non-violence as a strategy for achieving national unity and integration. As a nation that has attained 57 years of independence, the
worsening violent agitations for sovereign states and nations across the country, rising insurgency and
armed attacks just after the degrading of Boko Haram terrorist activities as well as hate speeches by
political leaders and supporters prelude to the 2019 elections presents a paradox to the justification for our earlier collective resolve in 1960 to remain as one nation.

We must recall that the bitter experiences of world wars I and II and the civil war in the country which left lasting scars on the globe and country respectively put to question the profit in using violent approaches to address grievances and win bargains.

Sadly, there are always persons ready to use false narratives and hate communications to heat up the polity. Acknowledging that there is dignity in every human person that deserves to be optimally protected and promoted, all Nigerians must understand that
we owe a collective duty to achieve this if we must entrench national unity.

The President of Nigeria,
Muhammadu Buhari and the Governor of Benue state, His Excellency, Dr. Samuel Ortom have in
different successive statements condemned the popular use of hate speeches and violent agitations to
promote self and group agendas which is undermining the unity of the country.

While efforts are being made at national and state levels to criminalize hate speeches and violent agitations through policies and laws, we Nigerian Women4Peace strongly support the campaign.

The United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 to which Nigeria has signed has given allNigerian women a mandate to participate actively in peacebuilding processes and to integrate women’s
needs and choices in all security systems on equal basis with men.

As a result of social roles ascribed to
us as women, we suffer the consequences of violence at many fronts including taking care of dependents
created by wars, battling with widowhood due to killings, carrying the burdens of traumatic experiences
resulting from violence and degrading treatment during and after wars. It is thus a concern to us to take steps to prevent escalations of violence through this ‘No be fight' campaign.

We Nigerian Women4Peace
believe in a Nigeria that is white in ideology, without the stains of bloodshed, strife, injustice and
rancour hence this symbolic ‘White Blouse Day’ movement.

As we mark today’s double event as Independence Day and “White Blouse Day’, we enjoin all our
families, friends, political parties, economic groups, ethnic formations and the government to institute  policies that prevent hate speech and violence.

The mass media was used to perpetuate hate speeches
during campaigns of the 2015 general elections.

Recognizing the strong influence that mass media has
on promoting or undermining national security we enjoin owners of the media organizations as well as the National Broadcasting Commission and relevant agencies to actively enforce regulations that will
forestall broadcast or publishing of hate content in the media.

We believe that no law can do as much as a change in our attitude and behaviour can. It will be difficult
though not impossible to control hate content in people-owned media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.

However, a change in our attitudes and behaviour will create national refrain in hate attacks. We must begin to learn from the principles of Mahatma Ghandi of India, Martin Luther King Jnr of the
United States of America and Nelson Mandela of South Africa that we can achieve more through other means than perpetuating hate.

The ‘Change begins with me’ campaign of the federal government has
done commendable work in reshaping attitudes. This campaign should also sensitize the nation against hate speech.

A zero-hate culture will indeed drive our country towards stronger unity and common good and above all improve the country’s image among nations.

#Happy NGWomen4Peace Initiative “WhiteBlouseDay”!
#DonNotStainOurWhiteBlouseWithBlood!
#WeCondemHateSpeech!
#InUnityWeStand
#OneLove!
#OneNation
#Happy 57th
Independence!
#Long live Nigeria
#Long live Benue State
#Long live NGWomen4Peace Initiative
#Long live WEP, FJDP, GERI, ASF, CEDASJ

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