How foreign firm, hackers plotted to undermine 2015 election in favour of Jonathan – Report

A REPORT by United Kingdom (UK) newspaper The Guardian has revealed how a defunct British consultancy firm, Cambridge Analytica and a foreign hacker attempted to undermine the 2015 presidential election in Nigeria.

According to the investigation published on Thursday, February 16, the recruited hacker known as “Jorge” with his team and Cambridge Analytica coordinated a covert plan to manipulate and help reelect Goodluck Jonathan in his bid for a second term in office.

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In a confidential email, Cambridge Analytica was tasked with the responsibility to secure coverage of what would benefit Jonathan’s election campaign and discredit the challenger, All Progressives Congress candidate Muhammadu Buhari.

According to the report, Team Jorge was responsible for “opposition research”, or finding the material that could be leveraged to undermine Buhari.

The report unmasked the Israeli hacker, Jorge is Tal Hanan, described as a hacking and disinformation specialist operating from an industrial park 20 miles away from Tel Aviv.

Hanan called his group “Team Jorge”, and claimed his team have worked covertly on more than 33 “presidential-level” election campaigns on behalf of clients.

According to the report, “a reply to Hanan’s email asking who to meet in Nigeria was sent by Brittany Kaiser, a young Cambridge Analytica employee”.

“Kaiser copied in the firm’s chief executive, Alexander Nix, and several other internal and external partners who would be coordinating with one another on the covert campaign to re-elect Jonathan and discredit his rival, the then-opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari. “If you are on the ground please meet with SCL [Cambridge Analytica] Nigeria team,” she told Hanan.

“But the emails reveal the covert methods that were used to boost his electoral fortunes and the ways in which two teams specialising in the dark arts of political persuasion liaised with one another, with meetings in London, the Swiss resort of Davos and the Nigerian capital, Abuja,” the UK Guardian report added.

However, according to the report, there is no indication that Jonathan knew of either Cambridge Analytica or Team Jorge’s ultimately failed attempts to get him re-elected.

“Communications appear to have occurred on encrypted Hushmail accounts, or special devices used for secure phone calls.

“Perhaps most significantly, they provide the answer to a mystery that has endured since 2018, when the Guardian and Observer first reported how an “Israeli contractor” had supplied Cambridge Analytica staff working on the Nigerian election with confidential material apparently stolen from the Buhari campaign.”

The report as well alleged a case of cyber-attack on the mobile phones of APC members on the day of the election with the present Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said to be “the target”.



    Tal Hanan also made a reference to “a big scandal”, which contributed to the decision to postpone the 2015 election.

    In a slideshow called “What we do” he showed a slide with the heading: “Wrecking havoc during African election day”, followed by a screengrab from a newspaper article that appeared in Vanguard, a reputable media outlet, which reported how, on election day, leaders in Buhari’s APC discovered their phones were rendered useless because they were bombarded with calls.”

    Hanan also said the Jorge Team planned the extension of the presidential election announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over alleged security concerns due to Boko Haram Insurgency.

    “They extended the election, which was our objective,” Hanan disclosed.

    Stories with punches holding the powerful accountable. His determination to speak out against corruption and influence the conversation in Nigeria, the surrounding region and the continent inspires him.

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