A rich 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, according to a report by UK Guardian.
Fresh information reveals that fixers hired by a billionaire in support of the Jonathan campaign hacked into Buhari’s personal data.
SCL is the parent company of Cambridge Analytical, a data marketing firm, which harvests data from different sources and creates micro targets, with the ultimate goal of changing audience behaviour. It is reputed as one of the factors responsible for the outcome of the US presidential election and the Brexit vote of 2016.
Cambridge Analytica was 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.
According to UK Guardian, a Nigeria billionaire whose identity was not revealed committed a large amount of money to the bid to stop Buhari.
The reports also revealed that the fixers for the Jonathan campaign hacked into Buhari’s medical and financial records, in a bid to sway the decision of the electorate on regarding the historic election.
“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,” the newspaper quoted an ex-employee of SCL to have said.
Guardian said the company 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’,” the report read.
It said: “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.
“Seven individuals with close knowledge of the Nigeria campaign have described how Cambridge Analytica worked with people they believed were Israeli computer hackers.
“The sources – who spoke to the Observer over many months – said the company was looking for “kompromat” on Muhammadu Buhari – at the time, leader of the opposition.
“They said the hackers offered Cambridge Analytica access to private information about Buhari.”
Their testimony paints an extraordinary picture of how far a western company would contemplate going in an effort to undermine the democratic process in Africa’s most populous nation.
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, however, that it had been hired to provide advertising and marketing services in support of the campaign of Jonathan.
That work seems to have come 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.
An ex-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.”
The Observer reportedly obtained an astonishing and disturbing video that Cambridge Analytica used in the campaign.
“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 shit 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.”