EXCLUSIVE: 149 Nigerian soldiers in trouble for uploading photos on social media

Recapture of Mubi Town
FILE PHOTO: Nigerian Soldiers

A newly-introduced social media code of ethics for members of the Nigerian military has recorded some of its earliest sanctions, PREMIUM TIMES can report. This newspaper 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.

Officers court-martialled

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.”

PREMIUM TIMES could not immediately identify the persons rendering legal assistance to the embattled military officers.

A senior military officer told PREMIUM TIMES some of the affected officers could be compelled to proceed on early retirement, dismissed or even sentenced to jail, depending on the context of their violations.

“The armed forces is not where you commit wrongdoing and try to bribe your way out, you will receive maximum punishment as appropriate,” the top personnel said.

‘Pushed to the wall’

The Nigerian military has been on the defensive in recent years, as many officers, including those fighting Boko Haram in the terror-ravaged North-East, are taking to social media to ventilate on issues bordering on their welfare.

The military personnel, mostly soldiers, have been reported in the media as sending out anonymous pictures of the poor food they are being fed. Some have complained about how their salaries and allowances were being depleted by commanders, allegations that often received strong rebuttal from top military brass.

One of such instances came in February when some officers who said they were engaged in the Boko Haram war alleged gross maltreatment by military authorities. The officers called on the Nigerian public and President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently intervene in their situation or risk allowing the counter-terrorism efforts to deteriorate.

The Army swiftly responded to the anonymous complaints at the time with a call for disgruntled elements to abandon service. It also said those raising the concerns were sponsored by politicians, although no proof was provided to substantiate the claim.

Nigerian military personnel are also known to have regularly used social media to mourn the death of their fallen colleagues, even when the military had not formally notified their loved ones.

All these acts have “pushed the military to the wall”, Mr Agim said. “But it is not only in Nigeria, other countries are imposing measures to discourage their military officers from revealing too much information on social media.”

It was not immediately clear how many militaries across the world have imposed social media guidelines, but Western countries, including the United States, which Mr Agim said had such measures in place, do not appear to have prohibited uploading of pictures in military uniform on social media.

“There is no such policy,” a U.S. Air Force officer told PREMIUM TIMES Sunday, preferring not to be identified in print. “We can post pictures on social media in uniforms…except on AORs (areas of responsibility) that are considered combat and sensitive.”

“Military [officers] can post photos on social media provided nothing in the posts endangers troops, reveals locations, mission operations or troops movements,” the officer said.

India appears to have military guidelines which bear similarities with Nigeria’s, but this was imposed in 2016 after a senior military officer was enmeshed in a ‘honey trap’ scandal linked to the Pakistani intelligence agency.

The military in India forbids personnel from opening pornographic contents on social media, as well as setting pictures of themselves in uniform as their social media profile. But it did not place an outright ban on uploading pictures with uniform online.

‘No harm intended’

Mr Agim said the rules were not intended to harm the officers or over-police their social media activities, but Nigeria is facing serious security challenges which the military has been at the forefront of bringing to an end.

“It is a challenging face we are in in terms of security,” Mr Agim said. “We have the responsibility to take measures that will protect all members of the armed forces who would in turn protect the country as a whole.”

An Abuja-based lawyer, Ken Asogwa, said even though it might be difficult to hold a balanced position on the matter, the military does not seem to have done anything fundamentally wrong with its guidelines on social media conduct.

“The truth is that the military officers are human beings like everyone and the Constitution guarantees their fundamental rights,” Mr Asogwa told PREMIUM TIMES. “But since they have signed up to the codes of the military, they are statutorily bounded to comply by the social media guidelines.”

“If you think the military authorities are abridging your fundamental rights, you leave there and enjoy your rights elsewhere. But since you have signed up to the military code, it is not too much to expect you to comply with their rules, especially when such rules are drafted for security reasons,” he said.

Mr Asogwa said even private firms are increasingly issuing guidelines defining how their staff members should conduct themselves online, suggesting it would be unfair to single out the military because it is a public institution.

SEE FULL LIST HERE:

List of 149 soldiers being punished by Nigeran military for uploading photos on social media

LIST OF NAVY PERSONNEL IN UNIFORM ON SOCIAL MEDIA
1.CAPTAIN  ADO GAMBO  NN/1911
2. COMMANDER  AKINTOMIDE OLAMILOKUN 
3. COMMANDER  MARK YAUTE ABASHI   NN/2329
4. LIEUTENANT COMMANDER JIBRIL UMAR ABDULLAHI  NN/2761
5. LIEUTENANT COMMANDER  MUSTAPHA ABUBAKAR   NN/2966
6. LIEUTENANT COMMANDER ATTAI ABDULLAHI 
7. SURGEON LIEUTENANT MARK ANEHE ABANUM    NN/3171
8. LIEUTENANT  AMEZHINIM AMON AGBESOR   NN/3566
9. SUB-LIEUTENANT ILYASU ABDULAZIZ   NN3173
10. SUB-LIEUTENANT MUSA ABUBAKAR   NN3178
11. SUB-LIEUTENANT CALEB ITYAVENEM ABAGYEH  NN/3287
12. SUB-LIEUTENANT OLUFEMI EBENIZER AJALA  NN/3351
13. SUB-LIEUTENANT  LUKMAN ABASS   NN/3645
14. SUB-LIEUTENANT   OKPE EMMANUEL  NN/4103
15. SUB-LIEUTENANT  OLUWATOSIN AGBELEMOSE  NN/4107
RATINGS
16. OPERATIONS SPECIALIST ALI MUSA
17. OPERATIONS SPECIALIST UMAR FAROUK
18. ABBAS AKINPELU
19. ABDULLAHI FAISAL 
20. AHMED YUNUS
21. AKANNI SEGUN
22. AKINTUNDE CAMPBELL BISOLA 
23. ALLOY GODWIN
24. ANCY ARAN
25. BEATRICE PETER
26. DEREK JACKSON
27. EDOH OCHEFIJE
28. EJEMBI JOSEPH 
29. ESSIEN U
30. JIMANG JAMES
31. OFEM EMMANUEL PATRICK
32. REGINA NUHU
33. SIMON GABRIEL
LIST OF ARMY PERSONNEL IN UNIFORM ON SOCIAL MEDIA (OFFICERS)
1. CAPTAIN  ABUBAKAR GADA Z   NA/12442
2. CAPTAIN ABUBAKAR ABDULRAZAQ  NA/12902
3. CAPTAIN  ABDULKADIR SADIQ M  NA/14548
4. CAPTAIN ABDULLAHI NASIRU 
5. LIEUTENANT ABUBAKAR USMAN   NA/11735
6. LIEUTENANT ABUBAKAR ADAMU  NA/12689
7. LIEUTENANT ABUBAKAR ABDULMUDALLABI M NA/13375
8. LIEUTENANT ABDULLAHI HASSAN   NA/15041
9. LIEUTENANT ABDULAZEEZ SALAMI   
10. OLUWASEGUN S. BADEWALE
SOLDIERS
11. LANCE CORPORAL IGWU P
12. LANCE CORPORAL MICHAEL E
13. PRIVATE OLOJEDE E
14. PRIVATE SARAH O
15. ABBA MUSA KURA
16. ABUBAKAR ADAMU
17. ABUBAKAR ABDULKADIR
18. ALABI AA
19. AMINU GARBA
20. BALA MUBARAK
21. BALOGUN RAMON
22. DAKAM BARTHOLOMEW
23. DANJUMA BABA
24. EMMANUEL OWOLABI OLUWASEGUN
25. INIOBONG FRANCE
26. JAMILU UMAR
27. JOHNKENNEDY IKECHUKWU OGUNMEROBI
28. JONATHAN IBRAHIM
29. MASUR YADUMA
30. MOHAMMED ABUBAKAR
31. MUHAMMAD ABUBAKAR
32. NASIRU ADAMU
33. OBANLA TOKUNBO CHARLES
34. OYIBO JUSTINAH
35. PETER YUNANA
36. POPO EJIRO
37. STEPHEN AYUBA
38. SUNDAY OLUMUYIWA
39. UMAR BAPETEL
40. UMAR HARUNA
LIST OF AIR FORCE PERSONNEL IN UNIFORM ON SOCIAL MEDIA 
1. GROUP CAPTAIN ALIERU MUSA AJANI   NAF/2353
2. WING COMMANDER ADEBANJO ADEOSUN   NAF/2350
3. ADEYANJU SHITTU ISMAILA ADESOLA  NAF 3095
4. FLIGHT LIEUTENANT VICTOR AJEYE   NAF/3012
5. FLIGHT LIEUTENANT  A ABDULSALAM  NAF/3233
6. FLIGHT LIEUTENANT  MUHAMMAD SANI ADAM   NAF/3428
7. FLIGHT LIEUTENANT  MAHMUD AHMED BATAGARAWA  NAF/3452
8. FLYING OFFICER   ABUBAKAR SALIHU ABBE NAF/3580
9. FLYING OFFICER YAKUBU HARUNA ABDULLAHI NAF/3609
10. FLYING OFFICER HAMISU AHMED NAF 3648
11. FLYING OFFICER ALYASAU ADAMU NAF/3662
12. FLYING OFFICER  ABDULATEEF ABUBAKAR ALEGE  NAF/3784
13. FLYING OFFICER ABUBAKAR SADIQ ABDULKADIR   NAF/4006
14. FLYING OFFICER  BODE ABIODUN  NAF/4127
15. FLYING OFFICER MUJAHEED ADAMU (MUJY)  NAF/4188
16. FLYING OFFICER  MASUD ABDULLAHI  NAF/4208
17. FLYING OFFICER SHEHU ABUBAKAR  NAF/4210
AIRMEN
18. SERGEANT SAMUEL EFEMENA
19. CORPORAL BULUS ADAMS
20. CORPORAL  ALABI D
21. CORPORAL CHARLES LT
22.  JACOB J. JAMES
23. LANCE CORPORAL ALHASSAN LY
24. LANCE CORPORAL GIMBA S
25.LANCE CORPORAL AJINUNGA CP
26. LANCE CORPORAL EJAINU PT
27. LANCE CORPORAL SOHE JS
28. LANCE CORPORAL ILIYA N
29. AIR CRAFTMAN MOHAMMED A
30. AIR CRAFTMAN MUHAMMAD A
31.  AIR CRAFTMAN SALISU A
32.  AIR CRAFTMAN ALIYU MM
33.  AIR CRAFTMAN TANIMU YA
34.  AIR CRAFTMAN  IBRAHIM AG
35.  AIR CRAFTMAN  BALA Y
36.  AIR CRAFTMAN LAWAL A
37.  AIR CRAFTMAN MATTHEW AMOS
38.  AIR CRAFTMAN EMMANUEL SL
39.  AIR CRAFTMAN MUHAMMAD SDD
40.  AIR CRAFTMAN  YAKUBU DABO
41.  AIR CRAFTMAN EBRI ED
42.  AIR CRAFTMAN DAVID PG
43.  AIR CRAFTMAN JAMES
44.  AIR CRAFTMAN AUGUSTINE TIMOTHY
45.  AIR CRAFTMAN MAIYAKI A
46.  AIR CRAFTMAN BADMUS AO
47.  AIR CRAFTMAN HASSAN M
48.  AIR CRAFTMAN AHMED I
49.  AIR CRAFTMAN ISAAC EJ
50.  AIR CRAFTMAN ADAMU SA
51.  AIR CRAFTMAN ALBERT S
52.  AIR CRAFTMAN BASHIR A
53.  AIR CRAFTMAN WILLIAMS PN
54.  AIR CRAFTMAN AHMED A
55.  AIR CRAFTMAN LEMU DANIEL
56.  AIR CRAFTMAN EYAH PC
57.  AIR CRAFTMAN YOHANNA BG
58.  AIR CRAFTMAN HUSSAINI YD
59.  AIR CRAFTMAN BABA ES
60.  AIR CRAFTMAN UKPO IO
61.  AIR CRAFTMAN LOT MOSES
62. OKAFOR EMMA
63. METUSELLAR TIMOTHY
64. JOHNSON OLUGUNNA
65. OBIOMA GIDEON
66. RAUWASI SHAIABU
67. KENNETH BELLO
68. YILA WILLIAMS
69. OLAYINKA ADESOLA
70. OBED CHUKWUMBA
71. ROTIMI OLUGBENGA OJO
72. HARUNA BALA SALEH
73. STEPHEN MOSES
74. ROLAND HENS
75. MUSTAPHA SHUAIBU
76. NEHE TIMOTHY

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