Senator Iroegbu and Godsgift Onyedinefu with Agency
Facebook has busted an Isreali-led campaign to sway elections in Nigeria as well as targeted countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The social media giant on Thursday said it had removed 265 Facebook and Instagram accounts, pages, groups and events linked to an Israel-based firm due to what it called “inauthentic behaviour” targeting users in Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa.
The move is part of wider efforts by Facebook to address concerns over privacy lapses and hate speech in social media.
Facebook said the “inauthentic” activity originated in Israel and focused on Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger and Tunisia as well as in Latin America and Southeast Asia.
“The people behind this network used fake accounts to run pages, disseminate their content and artificially increase engagement,” Nathaniel , head of cyber security policy at Facebook said in a statement.
He identified Israel’s Archimedes Group as the source of some of the activity.
“This organisation and all its subsidiaries are now banned from Facebook, and it has been issued a cease and desist letter,” said Gleicher.
Archimedes was not immediately available for comment
Gleicher said Archimedes had 65 Facebook accounts, 161 pages, 12 events and four Instagram accounts. Some 2.8 million accounts followed one or more of these pages.
He said that the individuals involved also represented themselves as locals, including local news organisations, and published allegedly leaked information about politicians.
“The page administrators and account owners frequently posted about political news, including topics like elections in various countries, candidate views and criticism of political opponents,” Gleicher said.
“We’re taking down these pages and accounts based on their behaviour, not the content they posted.”
He added that around 812,000 dollars was spent for advertisements on Facebook paid for in Brazilian reals, Israeli shekels and US dollars with the first ad running in 2013 2012 and the most recent last month, Gleicher said.
“We have shared information about our analysis with industry partners and policymakers,” he said.
Similarly, Amnesty International on Thursday called for Israel’s government to ensure that an Israeli company, whose spyware has been linked to a WhatsApp breach that may have targeted human rights groups, be held accountable for the way its software is used.
Amnesty on Tuesday filed a petition in Israel seeking the revocation of NSO Group’s export licence and said that it was up to the government to take a firmer stance against export licenses that have “resulted in human rights abuses.”
Israel’s Ministry of Defence declined to comment.
WhatsApp, a unit of Facebook, said on Tuesday that a security breach on its messaging app may have targeted human rights groups.
According to Eva Galperin, Director of cybersecurity at San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, WhatsApp told human rights groups it believed the spyware used was developed by Israel’s NSO.
A second person familiar with the matter also identified spyware from NSO.
Amnesty said in an emailed statement that NSO has “again and again demonstrated their intent to avoid responsibility for the way their software is used,” and that only government intervention would change that.
NSO has not commented on any specific attacks, but following the WhatsApp breach it said it would investigate any “credible allegations of misuse” of its technology which “is solely operated by intelligence and law enforcement agencies”.
NSO’s biggest shareholder, Novalpina Capital, said in a statement that it intends to bring NSO’s governance into alignment with UN principles and will seek insights from Amnesty and other groups “into how best to achieve this important goal.”
WhatsApp, one of the world’s most popular messaging tools which are used by 1.5 billion people monthly, said it had notified the U.S. Department of Justice to help with an investigation into the breach.
And it encouraged its users to update to the latest version of the app, where the breach had been fixed.
One target of the new WhatsApp exploit was a United Kingdom-based human rights lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
The United Kingdom-based human rights lawyer is helping a Saudi dissident and several Mexican journalists mount civil cases against NSO for its alleged role in selling hacking tools to the Saudi and Mexican governments, which they alleged were used to hack into their phones.
NSO says it sells only to law enforcement and intelligence agencies pursuing legitimate targets, such as terrorists and criminals.
Novalpina, in a May 15 letter to Amnesty signed by founding partner Stephen Peel, said Novalpina was “determined to do whatever is necessary to ensure that NSO technology is used for the purpose for which it is intended.
“The prevention of harm to fundamental human rights arising from terrorism and serious crime – and not abused in a manner that undermines other equally fundamental human rights.”
Credits| Reuters, NAN
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•Laments arrest of his son-in-law, financial director
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar
Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
ThePeoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, has said he will not mortgage the mandate of Nigerians as freely expressed in the February 23 presidential poll.
Atiku , in a statement by his media aide, Paul Ibe, yesterday night , said the assurance is against the backdrop of the arrest of his son in-law and finance director of his group of companies, Alhaji Babalele Abdullahi, in Abuja, on Saturday, by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The statement read : “In a desperate move to have Atiku Abubakar concede and congratulate Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at about 8.30am today (Saturday) invaded the Maitama residence of Babalele. They were however not given access into the house until his lawyers arrived.
“The EFCC agents numbering about two dozen came in 2 regular vehicles, an 18-seater Toyota bus (registration Abuja CS 522 RSH) and a hilux van.
“They came with a search warrant to search the house and office of Babalele and found nothing incriminating.
“They then proceeded to his office at Oakland Centre in Maitama and found nothing incriminating there. However, they took away some documents of landed property.
“Not done, the EFCC officials stormed his Wuse residence where they again found nothing incriminating after the search.
“Afterwards, Babalele was taken away to the EFCC office in Wuse to make a statement alongside Mr. Lawan Ayuba.
“It was gathered that the petition relied upon to invade the residence and office of Babalele was authored by a brother of the wife of President Buhari. As a law abiding citizen, Atiku Abubakar recognizes the constitutional role of the EFCC and indeed any other agency of the government to carry out investigations, but will not be cowed by any attempt to blackmail him into mortgaging his mandate.” (The Sun)
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The Department of State Security Services, DSS has withdrawn its invitation to the National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in charge of logistics, Okechukwu Ibeanu.
It was earlier reported that Ibeanu alongside Chidi Nwafor, the director of ICT; Ken Ukeagu, director of procurement; Osaze Uzzi, director of voter education and publicity; and Bimbo Oladunjoye, the assistant director of ICT were asked to report at DSS offices in Abuja by 2 pm on Tuesday.
It’s unclear why the agency would drop its decision but sources hinted that some prominent Nigerians intervened because of the “timing”.
This invitation was initially believed to be related to the fiasco that led to the postponement of the general election by one week.
Mahmood Yakubu, a professor and INEC chairman, had blamed the postponement on sabotage and logistical issues. (Nairaland)
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• We scheduled meeting before election timetable –Nwodo
Magnus Eze, Enugu
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has accused the Ohanaeze Ndigbo of frustrating the party in the South East, including President Muhammad Buhari’s visit to Anambra and Enugu states today.
They alleged that the fixing of meeting of the Imeobi, the highest decision making organ of the body, today, by the Chief Nnia Nwodo leadership, was a design to diminish the import of the President’s visit.
Deputy Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Chuks Ibegbu said Ndigbo would, at the meeting take a position on which direction they will cast their votes, particularly on the presidential election.
APC National Vice Chairman, South East, Chief Emma Enukwu said the “Ohanaeze is the only socio-cultural group that has taken a position on 2019 election with adoption of a candidate, but power belongs to God.”
Also, a chieftain of the apex Igbo organisation, who belongs to the APC in Enugu State, Prince Richard Ozobu, on Monday, faulted Nwodo for scheduling such an important meeting on the day the President is visiting two states in the region.
Ozobu said: “I’ve been a frontline player in Ohanaeze for many years and Imeobi meeting has never held on a Thursday but Saturdays.
“I can clearly tell you that Nwodo fixed this Imeobi meeting in bad faith. There is no emergency in Igboland to warrant the message he sent across that emergency meeting of Imeobi holds Thursday. This is to show the least, Nwodo’s disdain for President Buhari and he should not hoodwink the entire Igbo nation into his personal calamity.”
But, Ohanaeze, in a swift reaction denied that the Imeobi meeting was scheduled to sabotage the campaign tour of the APC presidential candidate.
Nwodo said in Enugu, yesterday, that the NEC of Ohanaeze Ndigbo had chosen the date without knowing the campaign timetable of the ruling party.
He explained that it was even the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige and the Chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi that called his attention to the clash. He disclosed that Ohanaeze Ndigbo has in deference to Ngige and Umahi, shifted the time for the meeting from 10:00am to 4:00p.m “on the same day at the instance of Dr. Ngige.
The body noted that they were aware of the extra cost implications due to those that would have gone after the meeting, but would now be accommodated in hotels, apparently to give all Igbo sons and daughters scheduled for the meeting opportunity to be there. The statement added that although Ohanaeze Ndigbo is apolitical, it could aggregate the collective interest of Ndigbo for a candidate that answers to their wish and inclination but would not be dragged down to the level of vile politicking.
Meanwhile, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has called on Ndigbo to vote massively for President Buhari in the February 16 poll because of the long term benefits to them.
Addressing a meeting of APC faithful in Enugu, he said: “We want to be on the side of history, we want to be on the side of victory because in years to come, we will look back and we want our children and our grandchildren to say this was the moment when the South East got its act together, united and followed a path of victory and a path of sustainable development for the South East and for Nigeria.” (The Sun)
Former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, on Wednesday, said that the desire to move Nigeria forward was the greatest factor motivating his desire to keep seeking to occupy the highest political office in Nigeria.
Abubakar, who spoke when he visited an elder statesman and Peoples Democratic Party chieftain, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, during his visit to Imo state in his ongoing nationwide presidential consultations, said that bad governance had taken Nigeria back.
The former VP, who came in company with his campaign organisation’s Director-General and a former Governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel, and other members of his campaign team, said that he had the solution to the myriad of challenges confronting the country.
Atiku said, “Patriotism is the key thing. It is the thing propelling my presidential ambition. I want to move Nigeria forward. Patriotism is needed to move Nigeria forward.”
He said he was in the state to consult the leadership of the PDP in the state ahead of the party’s presidential primary.
Responding, Iwuanyanywu said “I will not retire from politics until Atiku becomes President. Atiku is the kind of president Nigeria needs. There is poverty in the land because of bad governance. The Igbo have been marginalised in this government, sadly, some Igbo people are still supporting Buhari.”
Similarly, Atiku accused the ruling All Progressives Congress of failing the aspirations of Nigerians.
Atiku stated this in Owerri, capital of Imo State, while on a visit to the delegates and members of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state. (Punch)
The former president declared that he was ready to make more personal sacrifices like he had done, to make Nigeria better.
Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has vowed that no amount of intimidation and threat will force him to abandon his struggle for a better Nigeria.
He said “nobody who loves Nigeria will want it to be better than what it is today,” and warned that if Nigerians fail to act together as they should, the country will not be what it should be by 2019.
He made the remarks yesterday while addressing a 30-man delegation of Bafarawa Presidential Campaign Organisation (BCO), led by the former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa, during a courtesy visit to him at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) residence, Abeokuta.
The former president, who observed that no right-thinking Nigerian will applaud the current situation in the country, declared that he was ready to make more personal sacrifices like he had done, to make Nigeria better.
Obasanjo said he would throw his weight behind any presidential candidate who has track records of integrity, diligence, humility and not nepotism.
He saluted Bafarawa’s courage for aspiring to rule the country and said the former governor achieved a lot in Sokoto, by listening to his advice and cooperating with him as president. This, he added, made him visit Sokoto State 14 times to unveil projects
He said: “There are three attributes of a leader I saw in you, namely, diligence, humility and you don’t discriminate in terms of people who work with you. And you listen to advise. And so, yours is to see what you can do to make Nigeria better than what it is today.
“I’ve made personal sacrifices and I will make more. I fought in the war front and shed blood. I went to prison for doing nothing wrong. I’ve also been intimidated and threatened, what would you do to intimidate somebody like me?
“Before I act, I pray to God to guide me, and I think of Nigeria first, particularly majority of Nigerians who are underprivileged, whose situation we need to improve upon.
“But, leadership is not easy; if we do not act in unity, Nigeria will not be what it should become 2019. For 200 million people to continue to complain that things are not right, we are doing the same thing as we have done before.
“And if we keep doing the same thing, the result will not be different. If we want a different result, we must do things differently. And I believe we can do things differently.”
Speaking earlier, Bafarawa said he decided to visit Obasanjo to seek his prayers, advice and support for his presidential aspiration. He said as a governor, between 1999 and 2007, he was able to save and leave N11.8 billion in the coffers of the state, courtesy the then president’s advice.
He noted that the former president institutionalised the fight against corruption by establishing the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offence Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), saying “anybody talking about the fight against corruption without mentioning Obasanjo is erroneous.” (The Sun)