Presidency, PDP bicker over alleged hacking of Buhari’s personal data

The Presidency is demanding response from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the allegation that one of the party’s supporters bankrolled the hacking of President Muhammadu Buhari’s personal data in the run-up to the 2015 elections.

The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to Buhari, Mallam Garba Shehu, said yesterday that this is one issue the PDP should address instead of  “raising false alarms in order to gain public sympathy and divert attention from its abysmal past record and failures.”

The Guardian of London reported on Thursday that an unnamed Nigerian oil billionaire supporter of former President Goodluck Jonathan paid a US company, Cambridge Analytica $2m for a covert campaign to stop Buhari.

Material for the campaign reportedly came from Israelis who allegedly hacked into Buhari’s private e-mail.

There is no proof that Jonathan, who lost the election, knew about the covert campaign.

However, the PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement yesterday described the accusation as false. It accused President Buhari’s handlers of concocting the fabrications just to divert public attention from the overwhelming national and international rejection of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led administration.

The PDP cited the verdict of the American billionaire businessman, Bill Gates on the Nigerian economic policy, which he described as failing to address human capital, as one of the instances of rejection of the nation’s economic direction by the international community.

Shehu while also reacting to a statement by the PDP that it would drag the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and INEC to the United Nations over alleged plan or plot to rig the 2019 general elections dismissed the claim as not only laughable and puerile, but also a demonstration of the level of desperation that is haunting the opposition leaders.

He said the PDP should address the concerns raised about its role in the mass data harvesting at the heart of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal.

He said: “Nothing undermines a country’s democracy as such unfair practices.

“That is why President Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment when they hacked into the opposition, Democratic Party records, and this is why a Special Counsel is investigating the alleged Russian interference in the US presidential election, and if President Donald Trump’s campaign is complicit in the attempted subversion of democracy in that country.

“The PDP’s decision to drag the All Progressives Congress (APC) and INEC to the United Nations over alleged plan or plot to rig the 2019 general elections are not only laughable and puerile, but they also demonstrate the level of desperation that is haunting the opposition leaders.

“President Muhammadu Buhari is passionately committed to free and fair elections in the country and for a man who joined forces with local and international observers to ensure a free and fair election which brought him to power in 2015, the President would under no circumstances tolerate any attempt to derail constitutional democracy.

“The outcome of the gubernatorial elections in Edo, Ondo and Anambra States stand as clear examples of President Buhari’s commitment to free and fair elections in the country, and Nigerians should indeed be wary of PDP’s desperate propaganda.

“For the PDP to be preaching free and fair elections is like a street-walker preaching about chastity.

“We must recall that the PDP postponed the 2015 general elections in the guise of national security challenges because defeat was staring it starkly in the face. However, despite the delay tactics, it was resoundingly defeated when the polls finally held.”

He said that the PDP has lost every moral ground and it is mortally afraid of facing the 2019 general elections because Nigerians will always remember their past and punish them one more time for economically plundering the country.

The Cambridge Analytica hacking scandal committed against  Candidate Buhari by the PDP in 2015 in which billions of Naira was paid out to the Israelis and others hackers, he said, has shown that the former ruling party lacks both the integrity and credibility to talk about election rigging.

“Instead of explaining their role in the scandal, the nation is greeted by stunning silence. Do they think this will simply blow away?

“Rigging is PDP’s main area of core competence and its party leaders are drowning men who won’t mind clutching at any straw for political survival.

“By dragging the United Nations into its political propaganda, the PDP is indirectly suggesting that it is afraid to face the voters in 2019.

“Rather than hiding behind allegations of a plot to rig the elections, the opposition party should work harder to win back the trust of voters instead of spreading false alarm to gain international sympathy.”

According to him, it is unfortunate that the PDP is desperately trying all dirty tricks, including the exploitation of tragedy, for political advantage.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Ologbondiyan, said the said report, which came from a foreign media platform, did not mention the PDP or any of its officials as culprit.

The statement added that the said report also exonerated former President Jonathan who was Buhari’s opponent in the 2015 presidential election, in the alleged scam.

The statement said, “Since the PDP has never been involved in hacking into any person’s data, we decided to peruse the documents and publications in the Guardian UK, relied upon by President Buhari’s senior special assistant, Mallam Shehu Garba, only to discover that none of them alluded to any involvement of the PDP or any of our officials or members, directly or indirectly of being in any way whatsoever a part of the said saga.

“It is incontrovertible that the documents had clinically stated that, there is no suggestion that Jonathan knew of the covert operation. Nigerians must therefore be shocked at the extent the Buhari-led Presidency can go in its penchant for beguiling, contrivance, deceit, fabrication and lies.

“Like a bunch of famished broom, it is clear that the sinking Buhari Presidency has become desperate in its bid to divert public attention from its multifarious failures and damning verdicts from national and international figures.

“Furthermore, it is laughable for the Presidency to say that the PDP is afraid of elections. This is the same Presidency that recently informed Nigerians that President Buhari was delaying his declaration for 2019 for fear of political opponents.

“Who is afraid of election? Is it the PDP or the President’s APC that has failed to conform to its constitutional provision of constituting a Board of Trustees (BOT); a party which is so afraid to conduct even internal election and had to extend the tenure of its executives because its stuck 2019 presidential candidate is even afraid of other possible contestants within its fold?”

The PDP added that from the actions of the APC, it is manifest that the party is not only mortally afraid of elections but also engaging in all manner of shenanigans to suppress opposition in the country.