By Ayeotan Shola
The Federal Government reportedly sanctioned the monitoring of all email and social media accounts of Nigerians suspected of having links with various terrorist groups, including Boko Haram and ISIS.
This is seen as part of its move to counter terrorism in the country.
The covert operation, which have been going on for some time, involves the hacking of the Facebook and twitter accounts of suspects.
The multi-million dollar surveillance project is being handled by the office of the National Security Adviser.
The programme, which was approved by the administration of immediate past President, Goodluck Jonathan, involves security agencies spying on targeted sections of the population, mainly religious extremists and radicalised individuals.
It was gathered that the project is being coordinated by some foreign firms, including an Israeli firm, Elbit System.
The programme involves hacking of phones, email accounts, social media accounts and bugging of telephone conversations of persons of interest.
A source said, “The surveillance system is not being used to target everyone, as people may want to believe. It is only deployed to get intelligence on specific targets because it would be hard and difficult to use such system to spy on all Nigerians; the amount of data would be too huge and staggering for the assessors to sort and manage.
“Basically, the system is used to hack into emails and phones of targets, and the targets are those who are suspected of having ties with terrorists, whether Boko Haram, ISIS or any other criminal element.”
It was also learnt that the programme has been successful as it had assisted security agencies frustrate many terror plots and attacks across the country before they were hatched.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Emmanuel Ojukwu, confirmed that security agencies were using a sophisticated surveillance system as part of measures to combat crime and terrorism in the country.
He said, “It is not a new technology. Everywhere in the world, it is used, including drones and other sophisticated equipment. Nigeria is part of the international community; we have our surveillance system, which shows that Nigeria is developing.”
He however explained that the security agencies respect the rights of Nigerians and were not using the system to hack the phones and computers of innocent Nigerians.
Source: The Punch