MALACHY UZENDU, Deputy Editor, Abuja, with agency report
•We’ll resist your plans to rig 2015 polls —PDP
The All Progressives Congress, APC, has described as “plainly implausible and a witless afterthought” the reasons given by the Department of State Security (DSS) for invading the party’s data centre in Lagos on Saturday.
The party described the DSS also known as SSS as a shameless apologist of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
APC stated this just as PDP vows to resist APC in the alleged cloning the of Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC).
A statement by the spokesperson of the SSS, Marilyn Ogar, on Sunday said the service received a petition alleging “unwholesome activities” in the building located at 10, Bola Ajibola Street, Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos.
“The petition alleged that those behind the activities were cloning INEC Permanent Voter’s Card 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 drives and 31 ‘Ghana Must Go’ bags of hard copy documents were recovered and taken away for further investigation,” Ms. Ogar said.
However, at a press conference held in Lagos yesterday, by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the APC wondered why a self-respecting intelligence gathering service will rely on “beer parlour gossips” in carrying out its responsibility, especially in a politically-charged environment like Nigeria’s.
“The spokesperson for the SSS said the organization had put the building housing the Data Centre under surveillance, and that it only acted after it was convinced that ‘unwholesome activities’ were taking place. What hogwash! If indeed they put the place under surveillance, would they not have been able to establish that it is APC Data Centre? Even if they were not sure, what prevents them from obtaining a court order permitting them to enter and search the building instead of carrying out a Gestapo-like operation? Are security agencies above the law?
“To highlight their crudity and lack of professionalism, they had to go and arrest one of the staffers who was not on duty just to get the password to the servers they vandalized and took away. This speaks volumes about the limitation of the DSS’ intelligence gathering ability. If they had broken into the Boko Haram computer, would they have gone to arrest Abubakar Shekau or any of his commanders to give them the password to it? Nigerians can now see why no progress has been made in using intelligence gathering to root out the evil Boko Haram,” APC said.
The APC also said far from the claims of the SSS, which, the party said, has now become one of the enforcement arms of the PDP, the real reasons the service broke into the offices of the party were to deprive it of its membership data base so it can no longer contact its members, and also to aid and abet the rigging of the 2015 elections by the PDP.
“With the membership data base now in their possession, it has become easy for them to collude with INEC to know which areas we are strong so they can scuttle the distribution of the Permanent Voters Cards there and, during the elections, to also deprive such areas of voting materials,” Mohammed said.
Meanwhile, the APC said it has been forced to suspend its membership registration following the damage done to its equipment at its Data Centre in Lagos by the operatives of the SSS and Navy.
“The viciousness and barbarism of the attack on the Data Centre and the arrest of 26 innocent workers, which put a lie to the SSS claim, have disrupted and corrupted the continuous offline and online membership registration across the country.
“The over 50 security men who invaded our offices not only vandalized the offices, they pulled out and carted away the Server and computer systems. Their activities have, therefore, affected the process of online/offline registration and data capture of APC members across the country, hence we are left with no choice than to suspend the process,” the party said.
“It is important to get to the bottom of this unprecedented action in the political history of our nation, especially because it may have compromised the 2015 general elections,” APC said, calling on all Nigerians as well as the country’s international partners to condemn the action.
Meanwhile, the yesterday said revelations made over the weekend by the DSS on plans by the opposition APC to clone Permanent Voters Card (PVC), was “a clear confirmation of our stand, and fears by well-meaning Nigerians of APC criminal desperation, lust for power, plot to cause confusion and truncate our democracy”.
Speaking on the matter, National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, said Nigerians now know the ground on which APC wanted to ascend to power.
He stressed that DSS revelations that APC planned utilizing technologies to hack into INEC’s data base to compromise the 2015 general elections were the most unfortunate thing that could happen, asking Nigerians never to let APC clinch the Presidency.
Said Metuh:”This discovery at the APC office in Lagos is a clear confirmation of our stand and fears by well-meaning Nigerians of APC’s criminal desperation, lust for power, plot to cause confusion and truncate our democracy.
“Indeed, Nigerians now know on what strength the APC, a party that clearly lacks genuine followership among the citizens, has been boasting that they will emerge victorious in the 2015 general elections and threatening to form a parallel government if they lose.
“Since its formation, the APC has been accusing everyone including INEC and security agencies of working to rig the 2015 elections in favour of the PDP.
“Little did Nigerians realize that such were smokescreens designed to divert attention from their heinous and unpatriotic plots. We believe that the APC, in its desperate attempt to grab power by all means, has already established cloning and hacking centers in all the 36 states of the federation to actualize their dubious machinations to subvert the will of the people,” Metuh said.
He insisted that the cloning of INEC PVCs was “criminal and strikes at the very heart of our electoral process. We share the fear of a majority of Nigerians that the APC may have already started cloning ballot papers and other election documents.
“It is in this regard that we call on all Nigerians and lovers of democracy across the world to note the desperation of the APC. Our citizens must, therefore, remain vigilant and resist any attempt by the APC to steal their mandate,” he stated.
He also called on security agencies to fully investigate the alleged cloning and ensure that whoever was found culpable faces the full weight of the law.
This development also places an additional burden on INEC, which must now work to prove that it is not complicit in this heinous crime against the Nigerian state and its people,” he added.