Hacking Allegation: Ploy to postpone elections, APC says

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed,
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed,

The All Progressives Congress, APC, said on Sunday that the recent investigation report by the Department of State Security, DSS, accusing the party of planning to hack the database of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is a ploy by the security outfit and the Federal Government to postpone the February general elections.

The APC spokesperson, Lai Mohammed, stated this on Sunday when he addressed a press conference at his party’s data centre which was raided by the DSS last year.

The security operatives raided the data office at 10 Bola Ajibola Street Ikeja, Lagos, on November 24, 2014. The operatives arrested some staff during the raid.

On January 7, the spokesperson of the DSS, which is also called SSS, Marilyn Ogar, addressed a press conference where she said the service had uncovered lists containing names and photographs of security personnel, foreigners and under-aged children on the list of registered members of the APC.

Ms. Ogar also said a video tutorial for hacking was uncovered when the service raided the building.

But the APC spokesperson, Mr. Mohammed, shortly after the service released its findings, dismissed it as ‘hogwash’

In his address on Sunday, Mr. Mohammed said the APC had taken its time to study the findings in detail and it has become imperative for the party to respond to the specific allegations raised by the SSS.

“Having taken our time to study the ‘findings’, we believe it is necessary for us to respond to the allegations in a more detailed manner that will show that we were even charitable to have described the report as hogwash.

“That DSS report is bunkum, garbage, and is not worth the paper on which it is written,” he said.

Motive for raid and investigation

Mr. Mohammed said the raid of its data centre and subsequent investigation is part of an ongoing effort by the President Jonathan Administration to postpone next month’s general elections.

“Having seen the handwriting on the wall vis-a-vis the growing rejection of the PDP by Nigerians, the Jonathan Administration has gone into a panic mode, while embarking on a plan to postpone the elections.

“Apparently, the thinking at the DSS, which is working in cahoots with the PDP, is that its report that the APC plans to hack into the voters’ registration Data Base of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will raise doubts about the integrity of the voter’s register to be used for the forthcoming polls, and subsequently force a postponement of the elections since the existing register cannot be used for the polls,” he said.

He said the plan to derail the polls was based on a wrong premise and that it has backfired.

Mr. Mohammed recalled that some prominent Nigerians have already called for the postponement of the election.

“Place the calls side by side with the apparently doctored outcome of the DSS investigations and the timing of the report’s release, and you will understand where they are coming from,” he said.

Hacking of INEC’s Database

The APC spokesperson stated that the allegation that the party planned to hack into INEC’s voters’ registration database is false.

He said the fact that the DSS made the allegation at all, shows the agency does not understand the concept of hacking, which, he said, is pathetic for a primary intelligence agency of its stature.

He also said the party is not aware that INEC has made a complaint of anyone or group trying to hack into its system.

“The DSS ‘findings’ are baseless as INEC’S database is a reflection of the registered members with the Permanent Voter’s Cards, PVCs.

“Please note that at the time of the DSS’ raids, the PVCs had already been printed. Therefore, of what value would it be to hack into the system and input more names?” he asked.

Mr. Mohammed said it was even impossible for the APC to hack into the database of INEC as such database is not even online; hacking it, he said is therefore, impossible.

He also said in order to prevent virus intrusion, there is no internet service at the APC Data Centre that was raided.

“The DSS has claimed that hacking tutorials were discovered on an external hard drive. This is a lie! All the USB ports on the pc systems in the office were disabled to prevent virus intrusion.

“Therefore, the use of external hard drives is not allowed at the APC Data Centre. If this is so, how is it possible for an external hard drive containing these so-called hacking materials to be found on the premises of the APC Data Office?”

He said the work stations at the party’s various data registration centres in the country are manned by unemployed youth who have only basic computer knowledge.

“The question to ask is: Would the party have employed these people if the intent were to hack into INEC’s database or employed gurus in the IT world?

“It is clear that the DSS purchased a hard drive and downloaded the information themselves from the Internet. After all, the DSS, by virtue of its duties, should be the hacking experts; hence hacking tutorials will be part of their staff induction training,” he said.

Timing of the raids and why

Mr. Mohammed alleged that it was no coincidence that the DSS raided the APC Data Centre on November 22, 2014, exactly one week before the start of the Permanent Voters Card, PVC, distribution on November 28, 2014.

He said the security agency vandalized APC’s Data Centre because the service is working hand-in-hand with the PDP.

“They carried out the raids to know our party’s strength in terms of membership.

“Please note that after the raids, many of our registered members could not find their names on the list when they went to collect their PVCs. This is not a mere coincidence,” he said.

Multiple Registration allegation

Mr. Mohammed said after its first raid, the DSS realized that its allegation that PVC’s were being cloned could not be sustained, saying that explains why the service could not display a single cloned PVC on January 7.

“During the second raid carried out by the DSS on the same APC Data Centre, the security personnel carted away bags with unused membership registration forms.

“These are the forms to which they have fraudulently attached pictures of babies & military personnel in order to implicate the APC.

“Or what on earth was the purpose of the DSS carting away blank APC membership registration forms? Why did it take the DSS almost 50 days to reveal this information?

“If it were true, won’t they have released the information to the general public immediately? Has the DSS hired any renowned IT organization to attest to its ‘findings’? Can you be an accuser and a judge at the same time?” he said.

Forced confessions

Mr. Mohammed recalled that the party had earlier issued a statement accusing the DSS of resorting to the use of torture to obtain forced confessions from the workers who were arrested during the first raid on the party’s Data Centre.

In that statement, the party had called the action of the security outfit a contravention of the UN Convention against Torture to which Nigeria is a signatory and a violation of the citizens’ fundamental human rights.

“The DSS shackled the hands and legs of those arrested and blindfolded them while they were being taken to Abuja. The arrested persons remained in chains even at the dark detention cell where they were made to sleep on the bare floor for the 10 days they were detained illegally.

“The workers had guns pointed at their heads by DSS personnel who threatened to shoot them

“A pregnant woman among those who were arrested was denied access to her drugs even when she started bleeding due to the torture to which she was subjected by the DSS,” that statement said.

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