EXCLUSIVE: Elbit Systems officials arrive; begin installation of $40 million Internet Spy facility for Nigeria

Nigerian governemnet has joined the long list of governments spying its citizens online. Photo: Bello Isiaka via Facebook
Nigerian governemnet has joined the long list of governments spying its citizens online. Photo: Bello Isiaka via Facebook

While the House of Reps investigative panel dilly dallies on its planned investigations, the Internet Spy device will be installed and “Big Brother” will come alive, somewhere in Abuja, soon.

As the world battles the American government over its invasive Prism project that has snooped on Americans and other world leaders, workers of Israeli defence electronics firm, Elbit Systems, have quietly landed in Abuja, to install a comprehensive spying facility that will help the Nigerian government spy on all online activities by its citizens.

The installation will go ahead despite public outcry and an ongoing legislative probe of the project that followed the leak of the contract by this newspaper, long before Edward Snowden exposed America’s Prism.

The installation is also taking place in complete disregard of the National Assembly which ordered the government to suspend all actions on the contract pending the outcome of a planned investigation.

The presidency had mulled cancellation of the contract after it summoned Elbit Officials, accusing them of not being discreet enough in the handling of the contract.

The Goodluck Jonathan administration secretly, and in open violation of lawful contracting procedures, awarded the Israeli firm, with headquarters in Haifa, a $40million contract to help it spy on citizens’ computers and Internet communications under the guise of intelligence gathering and national security.

Elbit announced it won the contract back in April, in a global press release, where its general manager, Yehuda Vered, opaquely announced that “Elbit Systems will supply its Wise Intelligence Technology (WiT) system to an unnamed country in Africa under a new $40 million contract … for Intelligence Analysis and Cyber Defense.”

Sources within the administration informed PREMIUM TIMES that the officials arrived Abuja over the weekend and had would instal the “big brother” device at the headquarters of the National Intelligence Agency in Abuja.

A team of about 20 Nigerian intelligence officers are currently training in Haifa, Israel – headquarters of Elbit Systems – and are expected to run the spying equipment after its installation.

The first batch of the intelligence trainees are due back in the country next week, our sources say.

Elbit says it will take it two years to complete the project, by which time it claimed, the administration will have “a highly advanced end-to-end solution, [to] supports every stage of the intelligence process, including the collection of the data from multiple sources, databases and sensors, processing of the information, supporting intelligence personnel in the analysis and evaluation of the information and disseminating the intelligence to the intended recipient…[that] will be integrated with various data sources, including Elbit Systems’ Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) solution and Elbit Systems’ PC Surveillance Systems (PSS), an advance solution for covert intelligence gathering.”

The expected implication of the “Big Brother” device, when successful installed, has rattled Nigeria’s growing online community, the civil society, top officials of the Jonathan’s administration who were not privy to the contract, and members of the National Assembly.

Many of them, who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES on conditions of anonymity, raised concern about the invasion of citizens’ privacy as well as the handling of Nigeria’s intelligence gathering process to citizens of another country, Israel.

How Much?

Elbit Systems admit it is receiving $40 million for the project. But our sources say that is not all the money that was released for the project.

The administration had indicated in the 2013 budget that it would procure a Wise Intelligence Network Harvest Analyzer System, Open Source Internet Monitoring System and Personal Internet Surveillance System at a cost of N9.496 Billion ($61.26 million, based on an agreed official exchange rate of N155 per dollar).

The fate of the balance of $21.26 million from the entire sum earmarked for the project is unclear at the moment. But our sources say it is now clear that the contract was initially awarded a security firm owned by a Nigerian politician and businessman, whose name we are withholding because of our ongoing investigation into the contract.

The businessman and another henchman of President Jonathan are the superintendents of the project, our sources said.
Disregarding National Assembly.

Although many Nigerian internet users and rights activists strongly kicked against the project, Members of the House of Representatives provided what initially appeared the strongest opposition to the project.

While adopting a motion by Ibrahim Shehu Gusau (APC Zamfara) to investigate the contract, the House asked the federal government to suspend the project pending an investigative hearing.

Members argued spying on Internet communications of citizens would violates the privacy of Nigerians provided for in Chapter four, section 37 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

“The contract was awarded under the guise of gathering information to enhance national security; but this may not be the answer to the glaring security challenges of today’s Nigeria. The right to private and family life has been violated,” Mr. Gusau said in his motion.

The House also held that the contract was awarded in clear breach of due process as required by the Fiscal Responsibility Act and Bureau of Public Procurement Act 2007.

PREMIUM TIMES investigations showed that in awarding the contract to the Israeli firm, no tenders or calls for bids were made just as there were no public announcements. The contract was awarded following a proposal from a single vendor who dictated the contract sum and the terms of the contract.

The procedure for public procurement of services, as stipulated by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), the Nigerian agency charged with the duty of ensuring transparency in all matters concerning government contracts, were largely ignored. In addition, there are no public records indicating that the BPP approved this contract.

The manner of award directly contravenes the 2007 Public Procurement Act.

While the Act gives room for single source contracts, the Elbit contract met none of the requirements under which such special contracts could be awarded.

Section 47 (3) (iii) of the 2007 Act stipulates that single source contracts are to be awarded in emergency situations such as “natural disasters or a financial crisis”.

But this week, while the House of Reps investigative panel – committees on ICT, human rights, Justice and anti-corruption – continues to dilly dally on its planned investigations, the “Big Brother” will come alive, somewhere in Abuja.

  • Wole

    Imagine the value of this intelligence when we consider online malfeasances perpetrated within Nigeria – social network issues, scams, piracy, money laundering, kidnapping and terrorism. People have used privacy for too long as cover for all the silly things we do. My take is that intelligence gathering helps to deal with some of these negative vices. If you have got nothing to hide, why worry about who is spying your and your PC?

    Nigeria is not moving forward…yet they move to become sophisticated in intelligence gathering, and we cry! Nigeria is a failed state, yet we sob about privacy when government is trying to gather real time information on how to get things done? If we want progress, I think we should embrace openness to intelligence gathering and knowledge dissemination.

    Intelligence gathering is an attribute of firsts world countries. If we are moving forward, we should be a part of such league!

    • Degkwe

      This is not about intelligence gathering. Tell me why a country like Nigeria with it’s backwardness in technology is ignoring all other more important projects that can reduce poverty and is instead concentrating on invading the privacy of the people.

      A country whose custodians are not doing anything to get people out of poverty but are instead thinking of further worsening the situation by invading their privacy of these poor people. This is a very dubious country. Those vices you mentioned: social network issues, scams, piracy, money laundering, kidnapping and terrorism. are not cured by invading people’s piracy. They are cured by progressive policies that enable the environment for investors to be made, spring up, and come in.

      Nigeria is not yet a first world country. Invasion of privacy is not a vehicle that’ll take Nigeria to first world status. The vehicle is by thoroughly fighting corruption and getting people back to work such that they are able to put food of their tables. You can’t lead a donkey in one direction by pulling it’s tail in the opposite direction.

      Let’s face it. This project is being put in place(by the PDP) to further weaken the opposition and enslave the people through restricting the power of dotcoms in enlightening the people. E.g look at the role Sahara Reporters played in the Oduahgate scam? This is what the govt sees as a threat and what they are installing this project for.

      To move forward then we must do most things like the first world countries.(not copy only destructive things from them and ignore the progressive ones) 1. Fight and punish corruption openly not cover it up. 2. Develop methods of policy formulation that cater to the people and really solve problems. 3. Equip the police and make them independent so that politicians cannot control them. and many more etcs.

      • Wole

        If intelligence cannot reduce poverty and crime, what else will? How do you catch corrupt people without intelligence? How can investors come to Nigeria without intelligence? How can there be security without intelligence? How can you equip the police without intelligence?

        You are good man. You want good for Nigeria. If this project is about cyber intelligence, then it is the good you so much desire for Nigeria.

        Please be positive!

        • Degkwe

          Few minutes after my earlier posts…The news came up that the begrudged nPDP governors entered a merger with the APC…Now the reason for the israeli system is coming to light. This confirms my earlier post that GEJ and his PDP cohorts are planning to throw Nigeria into serious mayhem of they lose the next presidential elections …and God willing they will loose by a landslide. Hopefully the APC will trouble shoot Nigeria from 1999 and jail all living PDP members that have got us this deep in the swamp of the backyard of development.

    • Degkwe

      And to add to that. This culture of having other countries sell us their technology only makes us slaves to these countries. How does the Nigerian govt think? Will a country like Israel or the USA, UK, France or Germany allow another country to install such a security installation for them? knowing that the selling party will have a backdoor to the system which makes Nigeria their slaves.
      $40 million dollars can do a lot in Nigeria. It can start a project that will provide Nigerian citizens with free access to wifi as a basic amenity. It can help our technology schools get better so that they can get to the level of building Nigerian made surveillance systems for Nigeria. Such thinking will give foreign hackers a hard time accessing our systems.
      This is a very destructive move in all ramifications. Nigeria does not currently have the kind of weight that can make the Israelis loyal to us. Tell me if a country like USA/China wants access to our Nigerian systems, Which do you think they would do? Come directly to Nigeria or go to their foreign allies to get this backdoor access or even use their American/Chinese hackers to get in?..An attack on Israeli systems will also mean access to our own systems.
      Nigeria is cursed with the worst kind of people leading us. People that have brains with the speed of 0.001 BPS when we have people with brains that operate at 20 MBPS and more.
      Such a pity.

      • Wole

        I agree with you, $40m can do a lot in Nigeria. But my fear is that, there is no step taken by the government that people ever support. PHCN has been privatised, people said no. Cashless economy, rejected. NIPP projects, they said OBJ stole the $16m already spent on the project – even though more and more of those projects are now coming on stream… There are many more to mention.

        If you will agree with me, and with due respect, I don’t expect you to do so! We have had enough troubles in Nigeria due to lax intelligence. Just think about how people abuse cyberspace in Nigeria. Think about lack of security, theft…as a matter of fact, crime has become as sophisticated in Nigeria as hell.

        It may not sound convincing, but my view is that why do people care about cyber privacy? Because some people want to watch porn in the office? Wire money to havens within secs. How much is $40 is the amount of money that Nigeria looses to fraud theft, terrorism, kidnapping….

        My friend, we cannot be real as country until we learn to deal with facts: we need intelligence, the very robust type to take care of our problem. I think this should be a welcome development for the country

        • Degkwe

          You are allowing these people fool you with the word intelligence…Intelligence comes in different forms and has different features. If Nigeria takes care of the basic things , we wont have problems like fraud, theft/robbery, terrorism and kidnappings.

          These are answers I will give you in some questions you asked here….

          But my fear is that, there is no step taken by the government that people ever support–If government takes the right steps, the people will know since they are the ones who suffer from govt’s silliness.

          PHCN has been privatised- Why Should it be when this should be the basic responsibility of govt?

          Cashless economy, rejected– What type of cashless economy are we talking about? What country does tries to make it’s society cashless and in the same period plans heavy expenditure to make bigger useless notes that will only encourage more corruption from people at the top?

          If intelligence cannot reduce poverty and crime, what else will? How do you catch corrupt people without intelligence? –Intelligence is important in this. This type of intelligence is got from whistleblowers. 1.Whistle blower policies are the best to provide information. 2.if made to run pari pasu with an effective and self funded EFCC which doesn’t owe loyalty to anyone and has power to investigate anyone irrespective of position or status. and 3. Effective and non corrupt justice system to honestly prosecute cases

          How can investors come to Nigeria without intelligence? Investors are not concerned about intelligence, they are concerned about the right policy that will guarantee them safety, security and high turnover. A functional police and security apparatus will guarantee this.

          How can you equip the police without intelligence? Yes police work with intelligence but not the kind of intelligence the Israelis will be involved with. The kind of intelligence police around the world work with is mostly reported/investigative intelligence. and it does not stop there….an effective justice system to follow every case speedily and without prejudice and corruption is necessary too.

          All you care for is electricity and jobs, even when criminals scare the hell out of the country because we just don’t have the right information/intelligence to catch people- Treating the malaria or fever HIV brings doesn’t cure it. To cure HIV you have to get rid of the virus. If we do the right things we wont have criminals. Criminals are humans too and majority of them were not as opportuned as you and I and use available means for livelihood. Knowing Nigeria well…if the right environment is created..i.e, power, jobs, social security, welfare and safety nets… we might not even need security in Nigeria cos everyone would be busy with work hours…….Perhaps you have not been dealt with by life which clouds your sense of reasoning as to why people take to crime….
          “I used to be very poor in Nigeria. JAMB and Nigerian society made me feel useless. I was going to take to robbery…But “yahoo yahoo” was what helped me get my life in order. I made some little money and funded myself to Europe for studies…Today I live in Europe(graduated from my first bachelors degree with a first class, am on my second one with an EU scholarship, almost developed something that would revolutionize my patron industry in Europe but idea was stolen by a big company here- this is someone jamb scored low several times and the Nigerian society would easily reject and call a nobody)” So when I argue, I have the poor and those with huge potential in mind who if empowered could be of immense benefit to Nigeria.

          Tell me Wole. if you have been outside Nigeria, are you not ashamed to say you are Nigerian?

          You said “They will use solar”!- To you isn’t that a shame? That these people you entrust with your life and that of your children and your children unborn cannot solve the simplest problems. We are not even talking of the environmental problems which the crippled state of power generation is causing. Europe is talking about emission reductions (ETS) today from productive ventures, Nigeria is still thinking of how to get power to drive our productive ventures.

          I will only be bothered about Nigeria for a lil while more, till I renounce and change my citizenship to that of my host country. This country called Nigeria is almost causing me heart problems and that’s because my mother is still there.

        • Degkwe

          This is not a welcome development to the country. Let me give you an example of why it is not ..using the wisdom of our forefathers….
          Do you know how to play a flute? Are you conversant with the sounds of music? doh(lower)-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti doh(higher) If you do then you know that there are two “doh” sounds…the higher and lower doh..To get the lower doh sound, you have to cover all the holes on the flute and make sure that air cannot pass through them. That will give you the sweet sound of the base doh…..It is the same thing with security. You don’t expose police(especially when it comes to internal security), and other security avenues only to cover one hole and think you are going to achieve perfect security.
          Nigerians may be stupid but they are not fools.
          The PHCN privatization thing is dubious. The national identity card thing was dubious. The way contracts are awarded in Nigeria are dubious.
          Don’t get me wrong….These people in power know what to do to plug all the holes and make Nigeria healthy again but they won’t because their cronies and families are making a hell of a fortune from Nigeria being in the intensive care Unit.
          Like I told you….things like fraud, theft, robbery, terrorism and kidnapping are minor societal issues and funnily all have the same common factor solutions…Make the economy work, Provide jobs, stop the power curse, tackle corruption seriously..
          You and I saw how the EFCC performed under OBJ. even with it’s 50% effectiveness, we could see how Nigeria was slowly changing and foreign investors saw credibility in us and started looking our way. Instead of thinking how we can make EFCC 100% effective., how to strengthen police to better fight crime and protect lives and property, how to bolster our justice system…those in power chose to reduce the EFCC’s effectiveness to 2%. Why? Because the avenues which their leech like cronies and the corrupt means they used to source for campaign funds for these poli-trick-cians were being closed in on.
          We need to do things the right way for the country to gown and develop. The funny thing is that nobody is asking these people to grow new brains and source for brand new solutions. There are solutions all around the world to copy from ..which other countries have gone through at some point. How come they never copy positive things but are quick to copy the wickedest of policies?

    • Tobias

      And hand over our lives to the Jews? Do the Jews do the same?

    • Tobias

      And hand over our lives to the Jews? Do the Jews do the same?

  • Nwa Aba #Lets Break Up Now

    invasion of citizens’ privacy? it will only affect people with skeleton on wardrobe Govt should disregard the useless good for nothing house of rep that can’t investigate their corrupt members only going after public interest, Kudos Mr President the masses cewed behind you

    • dogo

      perhaps you meant it would help us monitor the illicit relationship between Mrs. Diezani Alison Madueke and President Goodluck Jonathan-right nwa-aba?

  • Dayo Daramola

    The questions are: Did this contract follow due process? Did the presidency inform Nigerians on this project? Didnt the presidency claim it was cancelling this project after Nigerians called it to question given that the contract violated the law? If this is allowed to go then what else? It is an official installation of the culture of impunity and disregard for Nigerian people.

  • Okikiola Beckley

    Don’t bother yourselves,the power situation will mess up the project and it will eventually be grounded. Moreover the level of corruption in the system will not allow this kind of sophisticated project to work. A country where ordinary streetlights are in perpetual darkness wants to spy people on the internet. Well if you believe that,I also have an ocean front mansion I want to sell in Abuja.

    • Wole

      They will use solar! You just don’t want anything to work well for this country!

  • Degkwe

    Nigerians, Nigerians, Nigerians….I call on those living in Nigeria to fight for and not allow the government go through this project. Check it. They cannot install projects that will benefit Nigerians (electricity, nuclear power, rails, ports, education) but when it comes to something like this(spying) they know how to allocate millions of $$$. PDP is about to direct Nigeria in the direction of rogue regimes around the world like Iran and North Korea that shut their people up physically with Police and on the dot coms from complaining. Trust me, the real intention of this device is to
    1. Cut the country off from the world whenever there are elections.
    2. Restrict information whenever something serious happens within the country.
    3. Further push the people into poverty by killing access to capital which our youth engage in now aka yahoo yahoo. The poorer the people the easier it is to control them.
    4. Restrict access in Nigeria to websites that air the governments dirty laundry like Saharareporters since the dotcom has started playing a huge role in enlightening Nigerians within Nigeria because these people pose a direct proximity threat to them.
    This facility is going to do more than invade the privacy of the people, It is going to further enslave the people and make them more easily controllable by the ruling class.
    They come out from one side of their faces and pass the FOI bill. They see how this bill is fighting government impunity and corruption in high places. Then they try to fight it with the other face.
    NIGERIANS MUST STAND UP AND SAY NO TO THIS ULTIMATE CON OR ELSE US AND OUR CHILDREN ARE AGREEING TO BE SLAVES TO THE GOVERNMENT

    • Wole

      Why don’t you just take a flight straight to Abuja and stop it? All you care for is electricity and jobs, even when criminals scare the hell out of the country because we just don’t have the right information/intelligence to catch people.

  • Patriot01

    @ Wole: This Wole of a guy or whoever he/she is, is part of the Govt cabal of destruction.

  • Alex

    All those making submissions on Internet fora, be warned! Your anonymity is no longer guaranteed. After you have poured abuses on the “ogas at the top”, do not be surprised if the SSS show up at your door the next day. To be forewarned is ……..

    • Rico

      Don’t worry about it, it is from this forum that we’ll tell you how to circumvent them, we will lecture every internet user in Nigeria how to hide and we will also work together to attack the cheap system, $40 million is not even enough for a simple e-voting system, talk less of a spy system, spying is a multi-billion dollar project/investment, let them continue with their childsplay.

  • Rico

    Let them install it, it is not a rocket science, there are many of us that are like Assange and many more people in the intelligent office like Snowden, anyone trying to mess with the masses will be disgraced. we will crash it, we will overflow it with traffic, we don’t even have to go through Nigeria’s ISP, $40 Million is a child’s play, they can’t use that to establish a well functioning system, it’s just an ill conceived project, they need more than a billion dollars, they have not even procure a server farm, even if they did, which they cannot do with $40 million, we will still shut it down, unfortunately, the Israelis will monitor them instead, and wipe away their monies. they are creating evil for themselves. mark my words.

  • Rommel

    My happiness is that in no distant time,Jonathan Goodluck will vacate his position and we will also use these facilities to spy on him,whatever goes round comes round,my only grouse is that government never wastes time to implement those policies that have no benefit on the life of Nigerians,right now we are hearing of bribery scandal in the house of reps over oil benchmark but somehow,they refused to guarantee our future by funding adequately the educational sector,what is more important than the education of our children and wards? its just a matter of priority as our government prefers indiscriminate award of fictitious/inflated contracts to bogus foreign companies to proper capacity building of Nigerians to handle our own affairs.