Videos of military officers brutalizing civilians in the fight against ‘secessionists’ in Cameroon are circulating on the social media, top confidential security messages and communications are being leaked on the social media. Soldiers have turn to expose their status on the social media through their personal accounts, specialized group chats and interactions, and the list is long.
The activities of some soldiers and security officers on the social media have turned out to tarnish the image of the Cameroon military.
Most international Non Governmental Organizations and international institutions that have condemned and criticized the actions of the military especially in the ongoing Anglophone Crisis base their facts on social media publications (Facebook and WhatsApp), with a clear example being the video of security forces torturing a civilian in the South West region that went viral on WhatsApp provoking international condemnation.
The Minister Delegate at the Presidency of the Republic in charge of Defense, Joseph Beti Assomo had ordered an investigation to bring to book authors of the acts and those who took it to the social media. Results of the investigations are still to be released.
This picture of the actions and activities of the military on the social media is what has provoked the Secretary of State at the ministry of defense in charge of the National Gendarmerie; Galax Yves Landry Etoga to give firm instructions on how security forces especially elements of the National Gendarmerie should behave on the social media.
Henceforth the use of social media for soldiers shall respect specific conditions laid down by the Gendarmerie boss.
First, all social media accounts (Facebook , WhatsApp, Instagram…) of gendarme officers exposing their status through their profile pictures and/or professional information have to be blocked with immediate effect.
The creation of special discussion groups and forums on the social media by gendarme officers has been prohibited except after obtaining prior authorization from hierarchy to do so. The Secretary of State, Galax Etoga argues that such groups are similar to associations and should respect dispositions in force both at the level of the State and within the ranks of the military.
Existing groups administrators have been given a very short period of time to close down their entire groups because it is through such groups that basic confidential and secret in-service documents are leaked out.
Gendarme officers on special assignments have also been forbidden to use android phones when on duties for fear that they could be tempted to put up strategic information on the social media.
The communiqué from the Secretary of State warns with strong terms all those who will fail to respect the new dispositions and instructions from hierarchy.
All attempts to talk to some gendarme officers to comment the decision from their boss were to no avail. Most made us to understand that the new dispositions though may not favor everyone is considered as instructions or better still orders.