A newly-introduced social media code of ethics for members of the Nigerian military has recorded some of its earliest sanctions.
Online medium, Premium Times obtained details of at least 149 personnel who were penalised for violating a section of the guidelines within the first three months after they came into force.
The affected service members, majority of whom are non-commissioned officers, were accused of uploading pictures of themselves in military fatigues on social media, an act considered offensive under the guidelines issued in June 2018.
A breakdown of the sanctions shows 33 naval officers were found wearing their uniforms in fresh social media uploads, 40 soldiers were caught in the same act while 76 members of the Nigerian Air Force were affected.
The errant naval personnel comprised 15 commissioned officers and 18 ratings. Ten of the 40 Nigerian Army personnel are commissioned officers, with captain as the most-senior rank, while the remaining 30 are soldiers. The Air Force saw 17 of its officers and 59 non-commissioned officers identified as violating the social media guidelines.
The 10-page guidelines, published by the Defence Headquarters, imposed by Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olonisakin, on June 11 sought to curb undignified use of social media by members of the armed forces, especially acts that could render them susceptible to enemies’ trap or jeopardise ongoing military operations.
“Personnel should not post their pictures or those of their colleagues in military uniforms, or pictures containing military structures, platforms and other military related items,” said one of the slew of cautions in the guidelines.
The guidelines also included a ‘Dos and Don’ts’ section, which encouraged officers to always ‘like’ postings by all institutions of the armed forces but must not use social media languages such as “LWKMD, LMAO, LOL, OMG, BRB in professional posts.”
Military personnel were also required to warn their family members against controversial conducts on social media.
“Personnel will be held liable for any security issues arising from postings in respect of them by civilian friends or relations. They are therefore, to educate their friends and relations as necessary regarding military security and what should not be posted on social media,” the guidelines said.
Although the guidelines did not contain potential punishments for specific offences, there was a provision that said all officers would be punished as prescribed by the Armed Forces Act or the Cyber Crime Act.
The 149 officers were those caught between June 11 and September 18 by the Defence Headquarters.
It was not immediately clear how many of the 149 personnel have been disciplined for breaking the no-uniform-on-social media rule, but military spokesperson, John Agim, said he was aware arrests had been made.
“Some persons have been arrested for violating the guidelines and are currently being court-martialled,” Mr Agim, a brigadier-general said. “But only their lawyers could say the kinds of punishment involved.”