A letter has been sent by the national headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission to all its 37 Resident Electoral Commissioners, ordering them that it has stopped its officials from being members of WhatsApp groups.
It also said that its officials had been asked not to create any such social media group under any guise.
The commission took the decision via a memo sent to the RECs with reference number PE: CE/1001/1/27 and signed by the acting Secretary to the commission, Mr Okechukwu Ndeche.
“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 source said.
The commission, in its memo, alluded to this when it said that the “incessant disclosure of official information is capable of creating rancour and disharmony within and outside the commission.”
Ndeche, in the memo titled, Unauthorised ‘disclosure of official information,’ asked the RECs to enforce the contents of the memo.
“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.” The memo read.