Naija hit play
A report has revealed how a billionaire supporter of Goodluck Jonathan helped him in the 2015 presidential election
– The report claimed that the oil billionaire hired Cambridge Analytica to hack into President Buhari’s personal data to find relevant information to blackmail him
– The firm, Cambridge Analytica, however, denied hacking into Buhari’s personal data but admitted it was hired to campaign for Jonathan in the 2015 election
An oil billionaire supporter of former President Goodluck Jonathan reportedly hired SCL, a data analytics company, to paint President Muhammadu Buhari bad in the buildup to the 2015 elections.
A new report by Guardian UK reveals that fixers hired by the billionaire in support of the Jonathan campaign hacked into Buhari’s personal data.
9jahitplay.com gathered that SCL is the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, a data marketing firm, which harvests data from different sources and creates micro-targets, with the ultimate goal of changing audience behaviour.
Cambridge Analytica is reputed as one of the factors responsible for the outcome of the US presidential election and the Brexit vote of 2016.
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It was recently accused of improperly using data on behalf of political clients.
Reports say the company may have used data improperly obtained from roughly 50 million Facebook users to try to sway elections in different parts of the world.
A Nigerian oil billionaire whose identity was not revealed reportedly committed a large amount of money in order stop Buhari from winning the 2015 presidential election.
The reports also claimed that the fixers for the Jonathan campaign hacked into Buhari’s medical and financial records, in a desperate attempt to scare the electorates and changed their decisions to vote for President Buhari.
The Guardian quoted an ex-employee of SCL to have said: “It was the kind of campaign that was our bread and butter. We were employed by a billionaire who’s panicking at the idea of a change of government and who wants to spend big to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
According to the report, SCL had established a reputation of weaponising information to harm an opponent.
“It was a methodology honed and developed in the company’s defence and military work – the fifth dimension of warfare, defined by the US military as ‘information operations’.
“What was new, or at least new to those employees who have now spoken out, was bringing these techniques to the company’s election work,”
the report read.
Seven individuals with close knowledge of the Nigeria campaign reportedly described how Cambridge Analytica worked with people they believed were Israeli computer hackers.
The sources, who allegedly spoke to the Observer over many months, said the company was looking for “kompromat” on Muhammadu Buhari who was the presidential candidate of the then opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC).
They said the hackers offered Cambridge Analytica access to private information about Buhari.
This latest testimony reveals how far a western company could go in an effort to undermine the democratic process in Africa’s most populous nation; Nigeria.
However, Cambridge Analytica has insisted it did not take possession of or use any personal information for any purpose and did not use any “hacked or stolen data”.
The company confirmed, nevertheless, that it had been hired to provide advertising and marketing services in support of the campaign of Jonathan.
The campaign contract reportedly came about through Brittany Kaiser, a senior director at Cambridge Analytica, and a senior strategist on the campaign team of President Donald Trump.
Regarded by colleagues as a prolific networker, in December 2014 she was introduced to an oil billionaire who wanted to fund a covert campaign to support Jonathan.
A former employee reportedly said: “[Kaiser] got a phone call. It was just before Christmas and she flew out to meet them in Washington DC. It was all a bit ridiculous. It was only six to eight weeks before the election and they were looking to spend nearly $2m.
“There were a lot of scared millionaires worried that Buhari would get in. It was all very last-minute. A team flew out to Abuja and put together a communications campaign. It was a straightforward, normal comms campaign in most respects.”
Meanwhile, the Observer, Guardian UK’s sister newspaper, reportedly obtained an astonishing and disturbing video that Cambridge Analytica used in the campaign.
The description of, and extracts from, the content of the campaign video as obtained by the Observer
“Coming to Nigeria on February 15th, 2015,” the voiceover says in the manner of a trailer for a Hollywood movie.
“Dark. Scary. And very uncertain. Sharia for all.” And then it poses the question: “What would Nigeria look like if Sharia were imposed by Buhari?”
Its answer to that question is certainly dark. And scary. It’s also graphically, brutally, violent. One minute and 19 seconds of archive news footage from Nigeria’s troubled past set to a horror movie soundtrack.
There are scenes of people being macheted to death. Their legs hacked off. Their skulls caved in. A former contractor said: “It was voter suppression of the most crude and basic kind. It was targeted at Buhari voters in regions to basically scare the sh*it out of them and stop them from voting.”
“If Buhari wins, the film warns: women would wear the veil. Sharia law would be introduced. And the inference is, you may be macheted to death.
“It wasn’t just videos spreading fear. The Cambridge Analytica campaign team in Nigeria were jumpy too,” a source revealed.
Also, there were some reported meetings held to strategise how to blackmail Buhari before the election: three sources reportedly told the Guardian about one that took place between Cambridge Analytica employees and two people they were told were Israeli intelligence operatives.
“There was a two-hour meeting that took place in the hotel lobby between two senior campaign members and Israeli intelligence. After which they swept our hotel rooms for listening devices and said they would switch out our phones. The story we were told was that there were intelligence agents from a number of different countries, including Israel and France, who were supporting Goodluck Jonathan and helping the campaigns,” a source was quoted to have said.
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However, it was stated that there was no suggestion that Jonathan was aware of or implicated in this support. Another employee reportedly said: “Basically the Israelis didn’t want [Buhari] to win.”
Other employees questioned whether they were “real” Israeli intelligence operatives or Israeli private contractors.
“A few weeks later, as the campaign was drawing to a close, there was another meeting at Cambridge Analytica’s London office,” the Guardian UK report read.
An expert had reportedly flown in from Israel with a laptop, sources say.
A source revealed: “And Alexander Nix, Cambridge Analytica’s now suspended CEO, and Kaiser, asked employees to take a thumb drive and download the contents on to their own computers.
“The content was private emails and the information, they were told, related to Buhari’s financial and medical records.
“One employee who was present at the London meeting said he had initially assumed the visiting expert was Mossad or Israeli intelligence passing on what he called legitimate information.
“But he began to realise this wasn’t the case, he said, when he saw the reaction of his colleagues. One of them had “freaked out”, he said. “He was like, ‘What the f*uck? I don’t want anything to do with this.”
The source said that the employees are clear, at least in their own minds, that the information they were shown had come from hackers.
Back in Nigeria, the team still on the ground found out what was going on from their colleagues in London. They were reportedly freaked out.
“They were f*ucking scared,” said a colleague who spoke to them while they were in the country. The campaign fixer, the person with local knowledge who navigated them through the ins and outs of Nigerian politics, made it clear to them: they needed to get out of the country right away.
Cambridge Analytica had put them all in danger, they said. If opposition supporters found out, there was no saying what might happen.
One member of the team missed his flight and instead of asking the office to re-book it, he reportedly got the first fight out, to Dubai, and put it on his credit card.
A spokesman for the company, however, said its team remained in the country throughout the original campaigning period but “left in accordance with the company’s campaign plan”.
“Team members were regularly briefed about security concerns prior to and during deployment and measures were taken to ensure the team’s safety throughout,” he said.
This latest report poses multiple wider political questions about what really happened in the Nigerian 2015 elections and the role western powers played.
Are western political campaigners taking lucrative contracts from the local politicians or political supporters contributing to the democratic framework of developing countries or helping to destroy them?
Christopher Wylie, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower who spoke to the Observer, called it
“post-colonial blowback” .
He said: “The west found a way of firehosing disinformation into weak and vulnerable democracies. And now this has been turned back on us. This really is about our chickens coming home to roost.”