Headline news on the website of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Friday morning, indicated that the anti-corruption commission had arrested and detained some Nigerian oil moguls fingered in the mismanagement of subsidy funds.
The reports read that the EFCC had arrested and detained the managing director of CONOIL, Mike Adenuga, Managing director of African Petroleum, Femi Otedola, managing director of MRS, Sayyu Dantata and others – including government officials who have defrauded Nigeria of several billions through the fuel subsidy scheme.
But the commission swiftly reacted by saying its site was hacked. It subsequently shut down the site. EFCC’s spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, said reports on the arrests did not originate from the commission.
“The statement is purely the work of hackers who breached the site and should be disregarded,” Mr. Uwujaren said.
Cyber warfare is a major tool of the largely social media driven Occupy Nigeria movement sparked by government’s withdrawal of subsidy on fuel since January 1. Besides using the internet to disseminate information, protesters have used their hacking skills to get government officials’ attention.
After playing a major role supporting the global Occupy movement, the internet anarchy group, Anonymous, is lending support to clones in developing countries, including Nigeria.
This time though, it is moving its operations into direct and more personalised attacks against government officials.
Early in the protest, Nigeria Cyber Hack-activists, Nigeria’s lead clone of Anonymous, began a “Tell Them How You Feel” campaign. The group bombarded mobile phone lines of Nigerian politicians, lawmakers and top government functionaries – including the Vice president – with a million text messages each.
Thereafter, these phone numbers were published by the group on social media, inviting Nigerians to call or text them to denounce the policy.
On Thursday, the group, who have been actively involved in the Occupy Nigeria cyber protests, posted on its twitter handle that it was planning an attack on EFCC’s website in a bid to push the anti-corruption commission into arresting Messrs Otedola and Adenuga, earlier fingered as members of a cabal that have fuelled corruption within the oil industry.
Nigeria Cyber Hack-activists have a history of defacing government websites. In May last year, they defaced several government websites, including the National Assembly’s, in a campaign – Op-Nigeria – targeted at forcing government to cut waste and sign the Freedom of Information Act.
They group however on Friday denied responsibility for the alleged hacking of EFCC website, saying its attacks against the commission are planned for the following day, Saturday.
Their denial suggests there are other hack groups operating in Nigeria. In an interview with NEXT in June 2011, the group admitted having international allies but over the past few months, several other hack groups with focused operations on Nigeria have sprang up in the cyber space – including Anonymous Nigeria.
Anonymous Nigeria is also a clone of Anonymous, the shadowy internet collection of social justice hackers.
Over the past week, Anonymous Nigeria has waged a relentless cyber assault on the Nigerian government “in defence and support of the Occupy Nigeria protests,” a communiqué on its website admitted.
They have bombarded government communications channels with millions of messages, defaced websites of government agencies perceived to be corrupt and has attacked the web assets of those agencies that threatened retaliation against protesters.
“We have relentlessly documented and disseminated information proving the complete corruption of our leaders,” they said. “We will stop at nothing to fish out the unscrupulous elements governing our nation. The government must eliminate every form of corruption in high places.”
Yet, Anonymous Nigeria also does not claim responsibility for the alleged EFCC website hacking.
“Efforts are being made to track and arrest the persons behind the breach,” Mr. Uwujaren said.
The anarchic, faceless, and irrepressible group have reacted threatening it will upload stuxnet – a deadly computer worm discovered in 2010 – on Shell flow station in the oil rich Niger Delta if threatened with treason or arrests.
They warned that Nigeria’s cyber infrastructure was insecure and would overthrow it if the government does not meet their demands to stop corruption and political patronage in Nigeria, cut waste in governance, and prosecute members of the cabal.
In alignment with the demands of the Occupy Nigeria movement, the hack-activists are also demanding that government immediately reverses pump price to N65 and halt all use of live ammunition at Occupy Nigeria protests.
“We are not only watching everything you do, but we are collecting evidence for the ICC in the Hague,” the group added
In the coming weeks, they say they plan to remove all government web assets from the internet beginning at once, deface them, jam communications and steal state secrets in retaliation for the over 20 dead protesters.