Update: Nigerian lawmakers order immediate suspension of $40 million internet surveillance contract

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

The House ordered an investigation of the contract award.

The secret $40 million internet surveillance project awarded by the Nigerian government to an Israeli tech firm to spy on Nigeria’s over 47 million internet users, will violate citizens’ constitutional rights, and breach the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the House of Representatives said Thursday.

The House ordered the immediate suspension of the project on Thursday to allow three committees review its details in three weeks.

Committees on Information and Computer Technology, Human Rights, and National Security, are to conduct inquiry into the project and make its findings known within the period.

The clandestine programme, awarded to Elbit Systems, with headquarters in Haifa, will allow the government spy on citizens’ computers and Internet communications and emails under the guise of intelligence gathering and national security.

The project became public knowledge after PREMIUM TIMES worked out a veiled announcement of the contract more than a month ago, in which Elbit acknowledged securing the multimillion dollar project with an African country whose identity it refused to state.

The company got the contract without any competitive bidding as required by federal laws.

The disclosure of the project and its details, by PREMIUM TIMES, fuelled intense public backlash against the government, and angered authorities which accused Elbit Systems of breaching a confidentiality agreement as part of the contract. The firm has denied doing anything wrong.

PREMIUM TIMES has received credible information from officials involved in the deal that President Goodluck Jonathan, thoroughly embarrassed by the firm’s action, has ordered that the contract be revoked.

Officially, the government has maintained sealed lips, a departure from the often brash, and at times, aggressive responses from a coterie of government spokespersons to media and public concerns.

The House decision on Thursday, became the first formal position any arm of the government would take on the matter yet.

In a motion initiated by Ibrahim Gusau (Zamfara state), the House agreed with many Nigerians who have condemned the project as an infringement on the privacy of Nigerians. Lawmakers argued that the intelligence gathering, “may not be the solution” to the nation’s security troubles.

“This project violates the privacy and the right of every Nigerian as stipulated in the constitution and the so called intelligence gathering may not be the solution to Nigeria’s insecurity,” Mr. Gusau, who raised the matter under urgent national importance rule, said.

The House questioned the secrecy surrounding the contract award, which lawmakers agreed violated federal financial regulations relating to contract awards, as stipulated in the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007.

The motion was not debated to allow for investigation, but its phrasing, received an almost unanimous support from members.

Elbit said in its statement that 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 Jonathan administration 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).

With the contract awarded to Elbit for about $40 million, part of questions the House may raise concerns what becomes of the extra $21million earmarked for the project.


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  • Ernest Ugiagbe

    Gej create job then there be more security anyway gej is the only that was born without shoes maybe other where born with shoes hmmmmmm i D̶̲̥̅̊ε̲̣̣̣̥γ̲̣̣̥ laff ooooo

  • Nemlong_Manchok

    This is simply what you get when you elevate a man beyond his level of competence. The not so properly educated Nigerien Almaijiri born-to rule Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani Speaker of the House of the Muslim North is now a big embarrassment to the Muslim North and indeed to all well meaning Nigerians. No wonder he is highly recommended for 2015 by persons like IBB who do not mean well for Nigeria. After desecrating the Christian Sunday and after successfully turning the House of Representatives to the House of the Muslim North, he is now paranoid to the duties and responsibilities of the Executive arm of government presently led by high performing and well educated Goodluck Jonathan. Presently unsatisfied with the outcome of all the violent, confrontational, subversive, vigorous and intentional attempts made by him and his unproductive, uneducated and disease-ravaged Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani kinsmen to frustrate and make the country ungovernable for Jonathan, he has now descended to an all-time low to the extent that he needs to pass a resolution to approve whether the President will go to toilet or not. What a disgrace; what a shame. (NB: It is instructive to note that a recent World Bank Research revealed that over 90% of Teachers in Sokoto State cannot read or write their names. It was under this system that Tambuwaal was educated).

  • Salisu_Dan_Gombe

    It is very unfortunate that Speaker Tambuwaal is allowing his bitterness against the President to becloud his sense of reasoning. He is not Nigeria’s Chief Security Officer neither is he the National Security Adviser. All he needed to do in this case is to ensure that there are adequate legislation to address whatever are his fears and concerns. It’s all becoming too petty and disgusting. The House should learn a lesson from the Farouk Lawan scandal and the recent embarrassing House Report on Amaechi’s Jet.

  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    President Jonathan is a systemic dictator and could be worse than those former military generals that ruled Nigeria with iron hands but did not build any good legacies for themselves like General Abacha and others like him.
    Under president Jonathan regime official corrup[tion practices are growing and national poverty level is deepen.Fututre is hopeless for the youths and our graduates whose ready available employment under president Jonathan in his achievement score card is okada-motorcycles commercial rider.

    • wax

      Dr. Pat, goin by your name nd title, i expected more from u. How dare u liken GEJ to military generals? We expect that ppl lyk you should be the light for youths. Did okada riding start with GEJ’s regime or did corruption rare its head in his during his time as president? Pls do not join forces with the illeterate hausa-muslims in their quest to draw us down to their level. As for the survailance, only those with ulterior motives shld be scared of it… Pls get your facts right nxt time. Tnx

  • Mani_Kay

    BOYCOTT!!! BOYCOTT!!!! BOYCOTT!!! It is obvious that TAMBUWAAL has turned the House of Representatives into the mediocre House of the Muslim North for the purpose of needlessly frustrating and making the country ungovernable for Jonathan. Clearly the House is now pursuing and promoting the narrow and mindless selfish ethnic,religious and political agenda of the born-to-rule Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani; this is unconstitutional and must be confronted. I wish to call on members of the House of Representatives from the Middle Belt, South-South, and South-East to begin a massive boycott of the House meetings until Tambuwaal is forced out of office and the House completely purged of Tambuwaals ethno political and religious injections.

    • OLA PEDRO

      thanks for your comment-tambuwal is a snake-who thinks he is the defacto president of nigeria-with clowns like amaechi-behind him–all the same the story as its usual with PT STINKS-like hell-meaning they take us for fooooooooooooools! so can cook up anything for us to swallow on behalf of APC

  • Es3

    Premium Times,
    The House of Reps did not order the President as they have no such powers! Please report news the way it is despite your being owned by Sahara Reporters and on Tinubu’s payroll!!!
    The House REQUESTED that action be stayed for now while four committees in the house check to see possible problems that may arise from the contract. Besides that, the House complained that the contract was not advertised??? I’m somehow lost here as I do not remember how many of United States and UK’s top security contracts were advertised?!

    • Otitoju Adamolekun

      But UK, US and the state of Israel did not give their security to foreigners as we are doing. Is that not the point mr. Es3? Let Nigerian scientists and engineers do it -period. You remember Amigo and how Hizbollah and the Lebanese (FOREIGNERS)are sponsoring violence and terrorism in Nigeria? YOU NOW WANT TO ACTUALLY PAY FOREIGNERS TO MONITOR US !!!! HABA! It is only people/race with inferiority complex that will not take a cue from that case. Please let GEJ or what does he call himself hand over that security to a group of Nigerian scientists and engineers. I prefer to be monitored by fellow Africans and Nigerians than some Jewish or Arab or Caucasian or Asian dude. That is the point baby Es3

      • Es3

        Otitoju,
        The US and UK do that a lot and you are free to find confirm this! Only they ensure their safety during and after the implementations by the foreign firm. US even leave some permanently in the hands the same Israelis, which I do not subscribe to?!
        I quite understand your concerns on this but that can be taken care as preparations, installation and operations of the equipments should not be done exclusively by the Israeli company. Nigerians are going to work with them, then the Nigerians can counter any attempts by the foreigners, if they are patroitic!
        On the count of awarding the contract to Nigerian scientists (or comapny), I differ? Not because our scientists are inferior in intellectual depth or capability to others and knowing that records shows that we parade one of the bests in the world in so many areas! Truthfully speaking, I sincerely look forward to see that day when Nigerian scientists will grow to demostrate their competence to the whole world on a Nigerian project sucessfully!
        Rather, experience have shown severally that we lack that commitement to deliver and prove ourselves to ourselves!!! Examples abound and it includes National ID project which was awarded to a Nigerian company (with foreign partnership) and it ended the way it did and so much money was lost down the drain! The Nigerian partner’s head even died with our money unaccounted for?!!! Now FG is awarding that afresh to Mastercard and new mnoey spent again?!!! Is that how it should be???
        Other examples include the FG desire to launch a made in Nigeria satellite into space, even if it involves using a foreign delivery rockets to send the satellite into orbit. At the end Nigerian scientists on the project bought one from a chinese company that even failed not long after it was launched into orbit. The satellite was replaced last year for us by the chinese manufacturer?! The list continues…
        What I do not want to witness is another death on arrival on this project! At least, let it be delivered first and Nigerians can take over fully from the foreign firm hoping that it will continue to work???! These are my real fears!

        • Otitoju Adamolekun

          Es3, so because “experience have shown severally that we lack that commitement to deliver and prove ourselves to ourselves!!!” WE SHOULD INVITE THE JEWS OR ANY FOREIGNERS TO OUR BEDROOM? Na wa o mr. Es3. Then why are we complaining about Amigo and how the Lebanese are establishing Hizbollah cells in Nigeria? Why are we angry about “these foreigners” when we want to hand over bedrooms of Nigerian citizens including that of President Jonathan to a Jewish company? Given your claim that we are incompetent, why dont we just sell the country to foreigners? At least it happened before during slavery. So let it happen again-no problem. Thanks Es3 for your “enlightened” info!

          • Es3

            Otitoju,
            If the Jews are your problem, then take a bite of someone else’s liver (which you may be lacking one of your own) and say so?!!! Stop hiding under all kinds of pretexts to post dodgy comments on this blog???!
            You, in this country and other countries, have been awarded countless contracts to foreign firms from electricity to agric, databases, radar coverages, national IDs, construction of Aso Rock and other countries presidential seats (and the list is endless) without handing over the president’s bedroom to foreigners? So, this INTERNET MONITORING contract that US, India, Canada and so many others even threatened Blackberry and were granted access to their servers and are now actively monitoring their internets that you are going paranoid over now?! Have you bothered to find out the companies that executed those contracts for those foreign countries or you are just content in blogging away un-informed here???
            Once again, if you have problems with Jews, come up with it now or you give some us qualitative and well researched responses for we do not post craps here!

  • BIG BALO

    Our Government is wasting our MONEY on selfish interest while our youths (GRADUATE) is dieing of hunger, going into prostitution and giving themselves to all manners of evils and criminal acts that are too barbaric to mention in the public domain. Nigeria the so-called giant of AFRICA where is your POWER, HONOR AND INTEGRITY? (let ask the present leaders). We are tired of suffering and smiling as Late FELA ANIKULAPO KUTI said, Let not our leaders forget the elders saying that says (one day monkey go go market and will not return home). I listened to sunrise daily on channels this morning and my heart bleeds as Mrs Briggs defended the executive impunity going on in the NGF. I even wonder how the children of this Mother of the nation would feel listening to the woman who once threatened that Nigeria would be set ablaze if GEJ is not returned to

    ASO- ROCK come 2015. God bless Nigeria my FATHER LAND.