The 2019 general election is fast approaching and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has stepped up its preparations by warning officials about their conduct on social media especially WhatsApp.
The electoral body sent a memo to the 37 resident electoral commissioners warning them from being members of any WhatsApp group in any guise.
According to sources, different groups were created on the platform which serves as avenues for the officials to discuss issues relating to welfare and working conditions.
Some sources who spoke under anonymity said a WhatsApp group was created by some members of staff to discuss payment issues due to perceived shortchanging by their bosses.
The source said, “I think the management of the commission was not pleased with the outcome of our discussions on the matter and others.
“We even resolved to confront our bosses with our findings. I think this did not go down well with the management who felt that we were forming a trade union.
“The fear is that if we continue like this, we may unite and insist on some things which the management may not be ready to give or is unable to give and this, I think, must have given them the impression that our unity may affect the conduct of the 2019 general elections.”
The memo signed by the Acting Secretary to the commission, Okechukwu Ndeche, reads: “The commission has observed with great concern, the incessant disclosure of official information/fake news especially in the social media which is capable of creating rancour and disharmony within and outside the commission.
“This rather embarrassing action is inimical to the image of the commission and contravenes provisions of Section 3:04.2(v), (viii), (xiii) of the INEC Staff Conditions of Service (2017).
“It is instructive to note that administrators of any such WhatsApp groups wherein official information is circulated would be criminally liable for the posts on the platforms and held accountable.
“Consequently, the commission hereby proscribes all existing WhatsApp groups or the establishment of any group under the guise of the commission.
“Henceforth, only project WhatsApp groups will be authorised and are to be closed at the end of that particular project.
“Accordingly, you are pleased requested to bring the content of this circular to the notice of all staff in your state and enforce strict compliance. Accept the assurances of the commission’s high regards.”