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Atiku: INEC denies arrest of ICT Staff by DSS

By Omeiza Ajayi

ABUJA – The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has denied the arrest of some staff of its Information and Communication Technology ICT unit by operatives of the Department of State Services DSS on the suspicion of leaking official secrets to the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, Atiku Abubakar.

Rivers election
An electoral official looks at documents at the state headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on March 10, 2019. – Nigeria’s election authorities announced the suspension of activities in volatile opposition-held Rivers State on March 10 citing violence and threats to its staff, as tensions rise in the wake of closely-watched regional elections. Counting is continuing across the country after the March 9 elections for governors in 29 of Nigeria’s 36 states, all state assemblies and administrative councils in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja. Results are expected in the coming days. (Photo AFP)

INEC’s Director in charge of Voter Education, Publicity, Gender and Civil Society Liaison, Oluwole Osaze-Uzi told Saturday Vanguard that there was nothing of such, describing the report as a social media hoax.

“There is nothing like that. We saw it on Thursday and it trended a little. Our staff are intact. None of them was picked by the DSS but you may also wish to clarify with the DSS. In fact, when I drew the attention of the INEC Chairman to it, he also dismissed it”, said Osaze-Uzi.

Atiku’s counsels at the Presidential Election Tribunal had tendered results it said the PDP got from the INEC servers. The results reportedly showed that Atiku garnered 18,356,732 million votes as against Buhari, said to have scored 16,741,430 million votes.

Atiku also identified the server where the results are kept as INEC_PRES_RSLT_SRV2019 and its unique Mac address as 94-57-A5-DC-64-B9 with Microsoft Product ID 00252-70000-0000-AA535, vowing to call the manufacturers of the computers for authentication.

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INEC had dismissed the position of the PDP on the grounds that the election results were never transmitted to the server as they were collated manually.

However, there were reports yesterday that some staff of the ICT unit were arrested by the DSS, only to be released when their spouses threatened a public protest.

“Atiku Abubakar’s quoting of INEC Server ID number has caused ripples in INEC Nigeria as 7 staffers of the ICT dept were quizzed, detained and tortured for 3 days, by the DSS to find who gave Official Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Nigeria and Atiku such information.

“When their wives threatened to jointly go on public protest, the security agency hurriedly released them”, the message which trended on the social media read.

Apart from Osaze-Uzi, Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi also dismissed the message as mere tissues of lies urging the public to disregard it.

“The report is false. There were no such arrests. Why didn’t the source mention the names of staff members that were arrested? Please disregard”.

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