The military will now monitor phone calls, text messages of officers

There is no doubt that Nigeria has had a turbulent political history, littered with coups that only saw one form of evil and ineptitude replace another. Is this enough reason for the military to swoop in and violate people's privacy?

President Muhammadu Buhari with Military chiefs

When current president Muhammadu Buhari first came to power in 1983, it was the end result of well-planned coup d'etat in which the inept, short-lived Shagari government was overthrown. This was not the first, nor second coup in the previous two decades.

There is no doubt that Nigeria has had a turbulent political history, littered with coups that only saw one form of evil and ineptitude replace another.

Is this enough reason for the military to swoop in and violate people's privacy? You tell me. Historically, Nigeria is not exactly the place the rest of the world looks to when you mention human rights. At the same time, the country has battled with insurgence and militancy, which has crippled its growth, for the past decade. Adding a coup to all that Nigeria has going on right now, could have far-reaching consequences beyond our imagination.

Speaking at an interdenominational church service to mark this year's Nigerian Army Day celebration  held at the Saint Charles Lwanga Catholic Church located at the Ikeja Cantonment, Major-General Isidore Edet, General Officer Commanding (GOC), 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, said, “The Chief of Army Staff, COAS wants us to remind ourselves that at this critical point in our national life and especially in Lagos and the Military where there are rumors of coup, whether they are perceived or real, that as soldiers we should be very careful of the company we keep.

”What we need to do as soldiers is to be on the guard, to be watchful of the people that go in and out of the barracks, our mammy markets and places where we eat. We should be careful of what we hear them say by listening attentively so that we can pick what they are saying or planning because when those people want to do these things they come into the barracks and try to incite the barracks community on things that are happening in the country, with words like: ‘’Don’t you think you should do something?’’

"Maybe they buy you drinks and fish and while you drink and eat with them, they start a conversation. Report such people so that you do not say I didn’t know at the end.

“Mind what you say and the company you keep. Your telephone conversation is something you should be very careful about because whatever you say or heard are being monitored. Whatever you send through the medium is being intercepted and collated so be careful."

The general could be alluding to the case of Lieutenant Bamidele, the army officer who was executed for failing to report plans of the coup that overthrew the Buhari government even though an earlier coup (by Buhari), which he reported, led to him being kept in custody for two weeks.

A coup is not something to be taken lightly, and the military should indeed take all steps it deems necessary to prevent it from happening. Tracking phone calls and text messages, however, could be taking it too far.

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