In an age where information is power and the possession of it gives one unlimited options of how to use it, we are finding out just how far some companies would go to do their jobs.
In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it has been revealed that the parent company, SCL, has been implicated in attempting to interfere with the 2015 elections.
In a report found on THE CABLE, investigations carried out by English Newspaper, THE GUARDIAN, reveal that Buhari’s personal information was hacked and covertly disseminated in a bid to bring down his popularity and ultimately cost him the election.
The report from the Guardian quoted an ex-employee of SCL as saying; “It was the kind of campaign that was our bread and butter. We were employed by a billionaire who’s panicking at the idea of a change of government and who wants to spend big to make sure that doesn’t happen,”
Cambridge Analytica is being heavily scrutinised after it was revealed that they manipulated information to get the British people to vote for Brexit and also were involved in President Trump’s campaign, although it has also been revealed that they were fired.
The report in the Guardian also stated how SCL and Cambridge Analytica were experts in using information to damage political opponents of clients and so on
“It was a methodology honed and developed in the company’s defence and military work – the fifth dimension of warfare, defined by the US military as ‘information operations’,” the report said.
“What was new, or at least new to those employees who have now spoken out, was bringing these techniques to the company’s election work.
“Seven individuals with close knowledge of the Nigeria campaign have described how Cambridge Analytica worked with people they believed were Israeli computer hackers.
“The sources – who spoke to the Observer over many months – said the company was looking for “kompromat” on Muhammadu Buhari – at the time, leader of the opposition.
“They said the hackers offered Cambridge Analytica access to private information about Buhari.”
Cambridge Analytica however, have said that they refused any information that was obtained through illegal means, stating that they only mined information in legal ways. The company did admit to having been hired to provide advertising and marketing services in support of the campaign of Jonathan.
According to the report, an unnamed Oil Billionaire reached out to Brittany Kaiser, a senior director at Cambridge Analytica to establish a business relationship and help covertly fund a campaign for Jonathan.
The Cable reports that an Ex-Employee said; “[Kaiser] got a phone call. It was just before Christmas and she flew out to meet them in Washington DC. It was all a bit ridiculous. It was only six to eight weeks before the election and they were looking to spend nearly $2m.”
“There were a lot of scared millionaires worried that Buhari would get in. It was all very last-minute. A team flew out to Abuja and put together a communications campaign. It was a straightforward, normal comms campaign in most respects.”
The UK Observer got a hold of a troubling video that Cambridge Analytica used in the campaign.
A voiceover in the Video said; “Coming to Nigeria on February 15th, 2015,”
And like a Hollywood trailer voice actor the voice continued “Dark. Scary. And very uncertain. Sharia for all.” And then it poses the question: “What would Nigeria look like if Sharia were imposed by Buhari?”
The short video went on to depict some of the darkest aspects of Nigeria’s history all with the background of a chilling horror movie soundtrack.
It also depicted people being macheted to death. Their legs hacked off. Their skulls caved in.
A former contractor said: “It was voter suppression of the most crude and basic kind. It was targeted at Buhari voters in regions to basically scare the shit out of them and stop them from voting.”
“If Buhari wins, the film warns: women would wear the veil. Sharia law would be introduced. And the inference is, you may be macheted to death.
“It wasn’t just videos spreading fear. The Cambridge Analytica campaign team in Nigeria were jumpy too.”
The Guardian also reported meetings taking place between Cambridge Analytica employees and two people they were told were Israeli intelligence operatives.
“There was a two-hour meeting that took place in the hotel lobby between two senior campaign members and Israeli intelligence. After which they swept our hotel rooms for listening devices and said they would switch out our phones. The story we were told was that there were intelligence agents from a number of different countries, including Israel and France, who were supporting Goodluck Jonathan and helping the campaigns,” a source for THE CABLE was quoted to have said.
In all this, there was no indication that Jonathan was aware of the covert operations going on. It was alleged that Israel didn’t want Buhari to win.
According to the Guardian’s report; “A few weeks later, as the campaign was drawing to a close, there was another meeting at Cambridge Analytica’s London office,”
“An expert had flown in from Israel with a laptop, sources say.”
“And Alexander Nix, Cambridge Analytica’s now suspended CEO, and Kaiser, asked employees to take a thumb drive and download the contents on to their own computers.
“The content was private emails and the information, they were told, related to Buhari’s financial and medical records.
“One employee who was present at the London meeting said he had initially assumed the visiting expert was Mossad or Israeli intelligence passing on what he called legtimate information.
“But he began to realise this wasn’t the case, he said, when he saw the reaction of his colleagues. One of them had “freaked out”, he said. “He was like, ‘What the fuck? I don’t want anything to do with this.’”
The report indicated that when the team in Nigeria realised what was going on, they wanted to back out with some team members looking to leave the country privately in fear that the opposition would find out about the operation.
A spokesman for the company said its team remained in the country throughout the original campaigning period but “left in accordance with the company’s campaign plan”.