25 November 2014 by Peter Judge - DCD
Nigerian opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has complained that a security raid on its data center at the weekend was "implausible" and "witless".
On Saturday, the Nigerian State Security Service (SSS) raided the APC data center on the outskirts of Lagos, arresting staff and destroying computers, according to Nigerian media. The SSS claims it had reason to believe there were illegal activities at the site, but the APC denies this and has accused the SSS of state-sponsored "terror and brigandage".
The security services say they were acting on a petition alleging "unwholesome activities" at the site - in particular, forgint the voting cards issued by INEC, the Nigerian electoral commission. “The petition alleged that those behind the activities were cloning INEC Permanent Voters Card with the intention of hacking into INEC data base, corrupting it and replacing them with their own data," said Marilyn Ogar, spokesperson for the SSS, which is also known as a the DSS (Department of State Services).
The SSS put the building, No.10, Bola Ajbola Street, Allen Avenue, Ikeja, under surveillance and then raided it, said Ms Ogar. The official report is that "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,” but the APC has a different story.
"What hogwash!" said Lai Mohammed, national publicity secretary of the APC, as reported by Nigeria's Premium Times. "If indeed they put the place under surveillance, would they not have been able to establish that it is an 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?"
According to the APC, the SSS turned up without a warrant, and spent "over two hours ransacking and vandalizing the centre", arresting an APC staffer and forcing them to reveal passwords for the servers they had taken. Twelve computers were destroyed, 26 people were arrested and a server was vandalized before being carted away, said Mohammed, as 50 security personnel "turned the office upside down, and pulled out and vandalized everything in sight."
APC fomed in 2013 as an alliance of the four main Nigerian opposition parties, and intends to take on the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) of President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 General Election.
APC says that voter registrations were being processed at the data center site, and it has now been forced to suspend that activity, which will affect its ability to contend the General Election.