A Nigerian Army officer has gotten into trouble for posting a video clip of his wedding on social media.
The Nigerian Army has been asked to fine E. Ali, a lieutenant, as well as 13 other officers who attended the wedding for allegedly going against army traditions at the event.
In an Oct. 28 internal memo seen by PREMIUM TIMES, the military police said the officers had violated army traditions regarding social media use, dress and etiquette in military marriages.
Military Police said an investigation found officers in the incident violated the Nigerian Army’s code of ethics. It also accused them of “disobeying the standing order” and recommended punishment for the alleged violations.
The memo was signed by NH Longpoe, a military police lieutenant colonel, and was received by the Nigerian Army on November 7.
According to the memo, the groom posted video clips from the wedding on a WhatsApp group page, which he shares with his classmates.
The memo did not include names of other officers involved or when and where the wedding took place.
“Lt. E. Ali (N/18406) should be charged with disobeying the Rules of Procedure, which is punishable under Section 57(1) of the AFA CAP A20 LFN: 2004 for violating Section 11(g) of the DHQ Social Media Usage Policy the FN 2018 by posting his wedding video clips on the D$SC Course 25 WhatsApp forum,” the memo said.
“An EE Ukhabi and 12 others also face disciplinary action for being killed during Lt Ethics of NA’s 2005 wedding ceremony.”
Mr. Lomgpoe went on to say that Ukhabi and some of the aforementioned officers will be penalized for appearing in “NA No. 1 dress without a ceremonial jacket.”
This, according to the military, violates Section 38 of the NA Dress Regulation of 2005.
However, the memo did not specify the type of punitive action it called for against the officers.
According to the army “Social Media Usage Policy for the Armed Forces of Nigeria‘, the military considers certain acts to be criminal offences.
“Disregarding rules and regulations that govern marriages by posting compromising images and videos taken before, during and after wedding ceremonies in uniform,” the document said.
This is not the first time military officers have gotten into trouble for going against Nigerian Army traditions. 2018, 149 employees were fined for uploading their pictures on social media.
Asked by PREMIUM TIMES to speak about it, a human rights lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, said there was nothing unusual about the recent development, but advised the armed forces to reconsider their rules to reflect the digital age.
Mr Ogunye said the public must recognize that the military is a “regulated force” and that the conduct of its members is governed by the Armed Forces Act and regulations set out under the law.
“As such, the constitutional rights and freedoms afforded to Nigerians as a whole are also available to armed forces men and officers, but those rights are limited,” he said.
“These rights are limited by the fact that these men and officers wore the uniforms voluntarily and subscribed to military discipline, regimentation and the laws of war.”
Mr Ogunye said that if there is a violation and a sanction has been imposed, but officials are not satisfied with the sanction, “such an official may seek redress within the framework of military justice imposed thereafter and eventually appeal to the court to show respect for it.”
However, the lawyer said that faced with the digital dispensation, the armed forces need to rethink their rigid system and ensure their rules are consistent with certain human rights guaranteed by the constitution.
“We live in an information age and a digital age, and I think that the constant conflict between military formalism, rigid adherence to orders, oaths, signals and regulations, and in the light of creativity, creation, technology, the modernity that is here are involved,” said Mr. Ogunye.
“This alleged misconduct needs to be reconsidered. Is it totally out of place for men in uniform to be socialized in the Nigerian family regardless of being in the military in this digital age as far as social media use is concerned – Facebook, WhatsApp, which one allows for full enjoyment of the Rights to disseminate information and to receive information and transmit ideas under Section 39 of the Constitution and Article 19 of the Charter of the United Nations?
“Even more so as lately we have seen the same military officials using social media to celebrate their victory in the forest against Boko Haram and the like.
“The question is, if soldiers are allowed to sing and celebrate their victory by striking down or killing the enemy and they are not punished, why is a soldier punished for celebrating his marriage?”
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