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Social media: DHQ reads riot act to officers, personnel

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Molly Kilete, Abuja

The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has warned that any officer or personnel of the Army, Navy and Air Force caught divulging sensitive information on social media platforms would not only be demoted but would also be dismissed from the services of the Nigerian Armed Forces.

This was contained in a new guideline for military personnel and their family members on the use of social media to tackle cyber-security crimes.

The order contained in a new military policy proscribed by the DHQ, and signed into law last Monday by the Chief of  Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, proscribed dismissal from service, reduction in rank, among other stiffer penalties for offenders.

Under the new arrangement, the Defence Space Administration have been mandated to monitor the calls and usage of the social media by military personnel.

With the new law, mobile telephones of military personnel and  that of their family members will now be monitored by the  authorities to know what they are posting on the social media platform.

The decision it was gathered is coming as a result of incessant attacks on troops movement during operations owe to leakages of information by some unscrupulous personnel to the Boko Haram terrorists group.

The decision, Daily Sun,  gathered has become necessary to reduce the incessant attacks on troops movement in the on going counter insurgency war in the north east part of the country.

It is believed that some unscrupulous personnel in the military were divulging sensitive military security operations matter to the Boko Haram terrorists group who have often times laid ambush for troops.

Daily Sun gathered that the new law entitled ‘Policy on the Use of Social Media’ for the Armed Forces of Nigeria”, stipulates the immediate establishment of a Social Media Directorate in the Nigerian Army, Nigeria Navy and the Nigerian Air force to monitor the Social Media and tell the Armed Forces story in real time.

It was also gathered that the law also gives guidelines for use of Social Media by military personnel including the extent to which members of their families are allowed to use social media and spelt out the no go areas on the use of the social media to be by military personnel which must be strictly adhered to and stipulates actions on Social Media that are regarded as offences and punishment to be meted out on offenders.

For some time now, military authorities have been sounding a note of warning to its personnel who are quick to post its operations and other internal matters on the social media which it said had hampered several of its operational engagement especially with the counter insurgency war.

The leakages which it said has led to several ambush of troops by terrorists and other criminal groups is said to have led to the untimely and sudden death of troops.

To curb the menace the army, navy and Air Force authorities have held several workshops and seminars on “Office Management and Document Security”, for its personnel.

In one of the workshops held recently for army personnel in Lagos, the Chief of army staff Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, had frowned against the abuse of the use of social media by some personnel contrary to the rules of the service which he said necessitated the need for establishment of a directorate that would focus solely on the management of social media in the service.

Buratai said, ”The Nigerian Army has a policy on the use of social media. The use of social media to discuss or disclose service matter is absolutely wrong.

“It is very unprofessional for personnel to resort to social media to disclose classified information or express grievances when the Nigerian Army has well established channels for addressing complaints.

“It is equally saddening to find operational issues and utterances including some gory pictures involving our personnel and equipment being circulated on social media.’

“I want you to take particularly of the presentations as it will also highlight the inherent risk associated with the advent of social media and all the steps you must not take to compromise information as clerks.

“The army has initiated a process that would lead to the establishment of a directorate that would focus solely on the management of social media in the service.

“This is part of my action plan to curtail the risk associated with the use of social media by personnel.” The army chief noted.

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