RECENTLY, the media was awash with stories of how the Department of State Security, DSS, has been able to crack a syndicate of Permanent Voter Cards cloners operating from a location, which the All Progressives Congress, APC, now claims is its Data Centre.
In the stories published in many Nigerian newspapers, the DSS and its operatives were made to look like they were persecuting the APC, while in actual fact, the party allowed its facility to be put to nefarious use, with or without its knowledge.
Now, because the APC, with its well-oiled propaganda machinery, was able to manipulate the system to its own advantage; and the DSS, because of the secretive nature of its operations and its failure to put in place a media strategy as a counter-measure for the minds of the people, is being made to look like a bunch of monstrous characters, rather than a crime-busting organisation.
Perhaps, the department has learnt its lessons that in dealing with politicians who have the press at their beck and call, a media perception strategy has to be put in place. No doubt, most of our political parties, are hub for criminal elements, where it is not a sin to clone American university certificates, be involved in credit card scams, deal in hard drugs, etc. This may just be an eye-opener for Marilyn Ogar and her colleagues.
Following a cry of wolf by the APC, the known face of the DSS, Marilyn Ogar, with the department’s back to the wall, explained that a building located at 10, Bola Ajbola Street, Allen Avenue was raided following a petition that “unwholesome activities” were going on there. She insisted there was no signpost to indicate the building belonged to a party, adding that the known state office of the APC in Lagos State is on Acme Road.
She said further in a statement: “The petition alleged that those behind the activities were cloning INEC Permanent Voter Cards with the intention of hacking into INEC data base, corrupting it and replacing them with their own data. Based on this information, the service placed the building under surveillance and having been convinced that some unwholesome activities were going on in the building, it undertook a raid of the premises. In the process, some persons were arrested, while a server, three hard drive and 31 ‘Ghana-must- go’ bags of hard copy document were recovered and taken away for further investigation.”
The DSS also said that INEC’s Permanent Voter Cards were being cloned on the premises, and the cloning of the cards was done with the intention of hacking into INEC’s database, corrupting it and replacing them with the cloned data.
While the APC continued to allege persecution, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, drove in the nail, suggesting that if the APC was already cloning PVCs, it was obvious it had a well-orchestrated plan to undermine the 2015 general elections. The PDP called on the DSS to fully investigate the illegal activities that were carried out at the building and prosecute everyone found culpable in the eyes of the law.
The party’s words: “We cannot forget that the APC has been accusing everyone, including INEC, of planning to rig the 2015 general elections. Little did we know that all these accusations were a smokescreen designed to hide the well-orchestrated plans of the APC to hack into INEC’s database and rig the elections even before Election Day.
“Additionally, we must express our concern that, if the APC in its desperate attempt to rig the 2015 elections across the entire country, has already established a cloning and hacking centre in Lagos, it is possible that the party has other hacking centres in the 36 states of the country. As such, we urge the DSS to fully investigate this matter and ensure that any such cloning and hacking centres in other parts of the country are unearthed, closed down, and the perpetrators prosecuted in the court of law.
“We reiterate that this matter of APC cloning PVCs must not be swept under the carpet, as it strikes at the very heart of our democracy. If the APC is cloning PVCs today, how do we know that they are not cloning ballot papers and other election documents?
“Finally, we wish to sound a note of warning to all Nigerians that the discovery of a cloning and hacking centre run by the APC in Lagos is a pointer to the direction to how the party plans to rig the 2015 general elections. We urge all Nigerians to be vigilant to ensure that we have all hands on deck to ensure that we have a free and fair election in 2015.”
But not all Nigerians are heeding the PDP’s call following comments by the man promoted as one that pursues integrity in the APC, General Muhammadu Buhari. In his usual Janjaweed method, he made straight for the jugular of the Jonathan administration, for an infraction committed by elements he has been associating with.
As stated above, Buhari confirmed the information making the rounds that the media has become a tool in the machinations of the APC. He stated that the party will use the courts and the media to fight its battles.
Adding that: “The Jonathan government cannot claim ignorance. The security operatives conducting this illegal raid must have been ordered from Abuja. They would not have done what they did unless given the mandate from their high bosses in Abuja.”
Rather than wait for the conclusion of investigations by the DSS, Buhari and his APC handlers, in an emotional outburst, rushed to the press to display an incredible amount of ignorance.
The DSS should spread its dragnet far and wide to find out if such cloning centres are spread across the country, either operated by the APC or other political parties.
Mr Abimbola Jones, a public commentator, wrote from Lagos.