The All Progressives Congress (APC) has alleged that Department of State Services (DSS) is working in cahoots with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to find excuses for postponing the February general election.
The APC was responding to the allegations levelled against it by the DSS.
The service on January 7 released its findings from the raid of the main opposition data centre in Lagos late last year.
According to DSS, APC was planning to hack into the database of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC) with the aim of compromising the electoral process and to inflate its membership data.
But at a press conference in Lagos on Sunday, the party, through its spokesman, Lai Mohammed, described the allegations as garbage and bunkum.
“As you are very much aware by now, the Department of State Services on January 7, 2015, released the so-called findings from its investigation following the gestapo-like raids of our data centre here at Number 10, Ajibola Street, Ikeja, on November 22, 2014,” it said.
“The summary of the findings is that our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), had an articulated plan to inflate the party’s membership data as well as hack into INEC’s voter registration database through the creation of party membership forms and cards to match INEC’s voters register across the country.
“Our immediate response, which was issued on the same day and which got a big play, was to dismiss the ‘findings’ as hogwash, a great disservice to Nigeria and an embarrassment to all intelligence-gathering organisations around the world. Our stand on the ‘findings’ has not changed.
“However, having taken our time to study the ‘findings’, we believe it is necessary for us to respond to the allegations in a more detailed manner that will show that we were even charitable to have described the report as hogwash. That DSS report is bunkum, garbage, and is not worth the paper on which it is written. We will demonstrate that to you shortly.
“But first, let us address the motive of the DSS for this report and the timing of its release. We will like to tell all Nigerians that the crap called ‘findings’ is part of the ongoing efforts by the Jonathan administration to postpone next month’s general election. Having seen the handwriting on the wall vis-a-vis the growing rejection of the PDP by Nigerians, the Jonathan administration has gone into a panic mode, while embarking on a plan to postpone the elections.
“Apparently, the thinking at the DSS, which is working in cahoots with the PDP, is that its report that the APC plans to hack into the voters’ registration Data Base of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will raise doubts about the integrity of the voter’s register to be used for the forthcoming polls, and subsequently force a postponement of the elections since the existing register cannot be used for the polls.
“Unfortunately for DSS and the PDP, this thinking was based on a wrong premise, as we will show shortly, and it has backfired. Before you say our claim is outlandish, remember that some prominent Nigerians have publicly called for the postponement of the election – which can only benefit the Jonathan administration and delay its impending Waterloo at the polls. Place the calls side by side with the apparently doctored outcome of the DSS investigations and the timing of the report’s release, and you will understand where they are coming from.”
APc said the ‘findings’ could not stand a serious scrutiny by independent investigators because the DSS worked backwards, from answer to question, in an effort to reach a pre-determined conclusion.
It also argued that the allegation that of planning to hack into INEC’s voters’ registration data base was false, saying the fact that DSS made the allegation at all showed that the agency did not understand the concept of hacking, which is pathetic for a primary intelligence agency of its stature.
“We are not aware that INEC has made a complaint of anyone or group trying to hack into its system. The DSS ‘findings’ are baseless as INEC’S database is a reflection of the registered members with the permanent voter cards (PVCs). Please note that at the time of the DSS raids, the PVCs had already been printed. Therefore, of what value would it be to hack into the system and input more names? Simply put, it is not possible for the APC to hack into the INEC data base for the following reasons:
“INEC’s database is not online, how then is it possible for anyone to hack into it? To prevent virus intrusion, there is no Internet service at the APC Data Centre that was raided. Therefore it is not possible to hack into INEC’s database.
“The DSS has claimed that hacking tutorials were discovered on an external hard drive. This is a lie! All the USB ports on the pc systems in the office were disabled to prevent virus intrusion. Therefore, the use of external hard drives is not allowed at the APC data centre. If this is so, how is it possible for an external hard drive containing these so-called hacking materials to be found on the premises of the APC data office?
“Please note that the work stations at our various data registration centres in the country are manned by unemployed youths with just basic computer knowledge. The question to ask is: Would the party have employed these people if the intent were to hack into INEC’s data base or employed gurus in the IT world?
“It is clear that the DSS purchased a hard drive and downloaded the information themselves from the Internet. After all, the DSS, by virtue of its duties, should be the hacking experts, hence hacking tutorials will be part of their staff induction training.
“As we have said, the overall motive of the raid of our offices and the so-called findings is to give the impression that the INEC voter register has been corrupted; hence cannot be used for next month’s elections. Now, a more specific question: Why did the DSS break into the APC data centre at the time it did?
“It is no coincidence that the DSS raided the APC data centre on November 22, 2014, exactly one week before the start of the PVC distribution exercise on November 28, 2014.
“The reason the DSS came to vandalise our data centre is because the service is working hand-in-hand with the PDP. They carried out the raids to know our party’s strength in terms of membership. Please note that after the raids, many of our registered members could not find their names on the list when they went to collect their PVCs. This is not a mere coincidence.”
APC claimed that after the first visit of DSS, it was clear to all Nigerians that the service’s claim that the party was cloning PVCs could not be substantiated, which explains why they could not display a single cloned PVC.
“During the second raid carried out by the DSS on the same APC data centre, the security personnel carted away bags with unused membership registration forms. These are the forms to which they have fraudulently attached pictures of babies & military personnel in order to implicate the APC.
“Or what on earth was the purpose of the DSS carting away blank APC membership registration forms? Why did it take the DSS almost 50 days to reveal this information? If it were true, won’t they have released the information to the general public immediately? Has the DSS hired any renowned IT organisation to attest to its ‘findings’? Can you be an accuser and a judge at the same time?”
“This is a no-brainer. The question to ask the DSS is: Will any member of the armed forces and paramilitary organisations be so daft as to join a political party using a passport photograph of himself or herself in uniform? The DSS must think Nigerians are fools.
“To the best of our knowledge, a baby cannot vote? So, why would any organisation register a baby as a member? Our application edits date of birth, hence will not allow the registration of under-aged persons. The DSS should tell the world where it got the pictures of babies that it affixed to the blank forms that were carted away from our data centre. We did not and could not have registered babies as members. This allegation is nitwitted, to say the least.”
APC recalled its statement of December 5, 2014, in which it accused DSS of resorting to the use of torture to obtain forced confessions from the workers who were arrested during the first raid on the party’s data centre.
“In that statement, we called the action of the DSS a contravention of the UN convention against torture to which Nigeria is a signatory and a violation of the citizens’ fundamental human rights.
“We also said The DSS shackled the hands and legs of those arrested and blindfolded them while they were being taken to Abuja; The arrested persons remained in chains even at the dark detention cell where they were made to sleep on the bare floor for the 10 days they were detained illegally.
“The workers had guns pointed at their heads by DSS personnel who threatened to shoot them. A pregnant woman among those who were arrested was denied access to her drugs even when she started bleeding due to the torture to which she was subjected by the DSS.
“Gentlemen, we now present to you some of those who were arrested and tortured by the DSS, so they can narrate to you their ordeal in the hands of the DSS – A national institution being maintained by taxpayers’ funds but which has now become the enforcement arm of the PDP to be used by the ruling party to terrorize innocent citizens.
“The DSS said it had charged these workers to court. This is a lie. We were the ones who charged the DSS to court, and the court ordered the security agency to release the arrested workers. Be that as it may, we are expecting them to join us in court, and let the court decide on the crap they called findings. We are confident that the ‘confessions’ extracted from these people, after they were subjected to incredible acts of torture, cannot even stand in any court of law.”