A damning report published by the U.K Guardian has revealed how a foreign firm tried to influence the 2015 presidential election in favour of the then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.
A London-based data mining and analytic firm, SCL, which is the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, was hired to do the dirty job by an unnamed Nigerian oil billionaire who was afraid of Mr. Jonathan losing the presidential election, the paper reported on Wednesday.
Cambridge Analytica is currently facing global outrage over its misuse of personal data of more than 50 million Facebook users.
It has also been mentioned in the alleged rigging of the U.S election in favour of President Donald Trump.
A former employee of Cambridge Analytica is quoted to have told the Guardian that the covert campaign in Nigeria was to gulp nearly $2 million, although the election was six to eight weeks away.
The paper said the strategies involved both ethical and unethical acts like procuring from Israeli computer hackers, hacked information on the then opposition leader, Muhammadu Buhari’s finances and medical records.
Cambridge Analytica, the paper said, released “an astonishing and disturbing” video intended to scare voters from giving electoral support to Mr. Buhari who eventually defeated Mr. Jonathan, anyway.
The video contained scenes of violent killings in Nigeria, the paper said.
“It was voter suppression of the most crude and basic kind. It was targeted at Buhari voters in Buhari regions to basically scare the shit out of them and stop them from voting,” a former contractor with Cambridge Analytica said of the video.
Analyzing the testimony of persons who worked on ground in Nigeria with Cambridge Analytica during the campaign, the Guardian stated: “Their testimony paints an extraordinary picture of how far a western company would contemplate going in an effort to undermine the democratic process in a country that already struggles to provide free and fair elections.”
Officials of the Cambridge Analytica were said to have hurriedly left Nigeria at some point for fear of their safety.
The Guardian said there was no suggestion that Mr. Jonathan was aware of or implicated in what happened.
The paper said SCL admitted it was hired to work for the re-election of Mr. Jonathan, but denied using hacked or stolen data.