ABUJA—The Department of State Services, DSS, has accused the All Progressives Congress, APC, of an elaborate plot to hack into the voters registration data base of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. It alleged that the purpose was to clone voters and party membership cards to match those in the data base.
The DSS claim was based on what it allegedly recovered from the invasion of the APC data centre in Lagos on November 22, 2014.
The charges were immediately rebuffed, by the APC which described the findings as hogwash, a “disservice to Nigeria and an embarrassment to all intelligence-gathering organizations around the world.”
Revealing the alleged findings from the outcome of its investigations, DSS spokesperson Marilyn Ogar, at a press conference in Abuja, said its operatives recovered a computer hard drive containing a video of 21 hacking tutorials during the raids on the APC centre located at 10 Bola Ajibola Street, Ikeja, Lagos State.
Ogar, a deputy director, Public Relations in the DSS, said the tutorial video focused on how to become a hacker and steps to take to avoid detection in the process of hacking web servers.
Ogar also alleged that the video explained how to hack into the systems of media houses, with the purpose of broadcasting fake stories or headlines.
She said the DSS also discovered that the APC registered under-aged persons including several infants and babies, foreigners and security personnel as members of the party.
What we discovered —DSS
She said the DSS received actionable information that a building located at No. 10, Bola Ajibola Street, Ikeja, Lagos, was being used for cloning of INEC Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) by some unscrupulous persons with intent to hack into INEC database, corrupt it and replace same with their own data.
“And that upon receiving the said report, the Service immediately took appropriate steps to investigate same by first seeking and obtaining a search warrant as required by law. This is contrary to claims by the APC that the building was accessed illegally.
“On arriving at the building at No. 10, Bola Ajibola Street, Ikeja, Lagos, officers of this Service found that the building did not have the signpost, banner or flag of any company or political party.
“In the course of investigation, the following discoveries were made: A temporary Voters Card; Permanent Voters Card; one of the hard drives recovered from the building contained a video of twenty-one (21) hacking tutorials.
“The tutorial video focused on “how to become a hacker and steps to take to avoid detection in the process of hacking web servers, steps and procedures of system hacking, passwords cracking, decrypting, escalating access privileges, and creating backdoors to servers.
“It also explicitly explained how to evade security of databases such as Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS), firewalls, and other measures put in place to deter hackers. The video outlined ways to identify vulnerabilities in systems and how to surreptitiously drop a USB flash drive in a target establishment, which when plugged into any computer, transmits malicious codes enough to gain access into and compromise the entire system of the target organization; and finally, the video explains how to hack into the systems of media houses, with the aim of broadcasting fake stories or headlines,” she said.
Registration of infants, security personnel
Ogar said further: “It was also discovered that the APC registered under-aged persons including several infants and babies as members of the party. We know that Article 9.1 of the APC Party Constitution expressly says: “Membership of the party shall be open to any citizen of Nigeria who has attained the age of eighteen (18) years and accepts the aims and objectives of the Party…”
According to her, the APC registered several security personnel from the Nigerian Army (NA), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) among others, in their uniforms as members of the party.
“Furthermore the APC had multiple registrations of individuals in multiples of 16, 12, and 10; several foreigners were also registered as its members. Also, the APC filled forms without passport photographs, and have books containing names of people with their phone numbers.
“Equally discovered were several envelopes containing passport photographs of various individuals. From the foregoing, that we suspect there was an elaborate and well articulated plan to inflate the Party’s membership data as well as hack into INEC’s voter registration database through the creation of party membership forms and cards to match INEC’s voters registers across the country.”
Allegation is hogwash, embarrassing to intelligence services — APC
Responding last night, the APC in a statement issued by its spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the development was reflective of the synergy between the security service and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to rubbish the opposition party ahead of the forthcoming elections.
Describing the allegations as disingenuous, flimsy, premeditated, partisan and an irritation, the party said: ‘’First the DSS and the PDP said the APC was cloning Permanent Voters Cards at the raided office, without a shred of evidence. Now, after a ‘painstaking’ investigation, the DSS has found out that the APC was only planning to inflate its membership data and then hack into INEC’s database. And this is the outcome of its massive, months-long investigations?
“This would have been funny if it were not from a primary domestic intelligence agency saddled with a great responsibility. Can this wishy-washy report stand any serious scrutiny? Can any serious intelligence gathering agency anywhere else in the world take this report seriously? With this kind of findings, one can now understand why Boko Haram has continued to strike at times and places of its own choosing without any prior knowledge by our all-powerful DSS.
“Even the presentation of the report by a poorly-trained and highly-politicized spokesperson of the DSS worsened the so-called findings. Why would the spokesperson of a national agency sound like a megaphone for the ruling party, freely castigating the opposition spokesman and a number of uninformed members of the public? Why does she have to go personal in presenting a report that supposedly is in the national interest?
“We have always warned that our democracy is in clear and present danger, not just from desperate politicians, but also from institutions of state that have compromised in their roles and resorted to crass lawlessness. The DSS’ ‘findings’ today have given us another reason to repeat this warning.
“While we are willing to meet the DSS in court, we can confidently say that the ‘confessions’ extracted from the arrested persons, after they were subjected to incredible acts of torture, cannot even stand in any court of law,” APC said.
The party recalled that in its statement of December 5, 2014, it accused the DSS of resorting to the use of torture to obtain forced confessions from those who were arrested during the first raid on the party’s Data Centre in Ikeja.
“In that statement, we called the action of the DSS a contravention of the UN Convention against Torture to which Nigeria is a signatory and a violation of the citizens’ fundamental human rights.
“We also said 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.
“Guns were pointed at their heads by DSS personnel who threatened to shoot them, while 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. Now the DSS has confirmed what we said in that press statement. Is anyone still surprised at the action of countries that are distancing themselves from Nigeria over human rights violations?” it queried.
APC said the impending release of the ‘great findings’ by the DSS after its world class investigations must have been the reason why the agency recently threatened it would arrest any politician who makes inciting comments, adding: “Apparently the DSS needed to silence all so that no one will dare criticize its earth-shaking ‘findings’.”
It confirms our claim— PDP
In its reaction to the development, the PDP said the revelation was a confirmation of what it claimed as the sinister plan of the APC to compromise the electoral system.
The party said: “When we alerted Nigerians that the APC is on a sinister mission against this country, some people dismissed us as crying wolf and playing to the gallery. Now that they have been exposed, the world can see that the APC is indeed a party of criminals in desperate quest for power.
“Everyone now knows on what strength a party which lacks genuine followership among the people has been boasting that it will emerge victorious in the elections with threats of violence if it loses.”