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PEOPLES DAILY, FRIDAY, MAY 10, 2013

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Internet spy deal and sundry matters President Jonathan, reportedly incensed that his alleged clandestine internet spy scheme has been unveiled at dawn, summons the Israeli firm contracted to handle the controversial project

T

he Nigerian government has summoned the management of Elbit Systems, an Israeli security firm contracted to spy on Nigerian Internet users, for a meeting to explain why the contract should not be revoked after it allegedly breached a confidential agreement in the contract. The management of the Israeli company are expected to first appear before two Nigerian security chiefs – the national security adviser

and the director general of the National Intelligence Agency – in Abuja this week. They would then be taken before President Goodluck Jonathan, who is miffed that Elbit’s action had let this newspaper to probe into details of the secret contract. The security chiefs will relay government’s anger over Elbit System’s ‘breach’ of confidentiality in the $40million contract which will see the Israeli company spy on citizens’ computers and Internet

communications under the guise of intelligence gathering and national security. The Nigerian government is angry the Isreali company went public with the contract, in a global press release that tipped off PREMIUM TIMES which, after extensive investigation, revealed the details of the deal. The disclosures sparked national outrage, with a lot of Nigerians now apprehensive that their country might be sliding back to dictatorship. A source close to the deal has told this newspaper the government is angry for two reasons. First, the administration is angry and embarrassed that the contract, considered by government as top national security secret, has now been blown open. Elbit announced the contract award few weeks ago in a global press release in an opaque statement that did not disclose the Nigerian destination of the deal.

“Elbit Systems will supply its Wise Intelligence Technology (WiT) system to an unnamed country in Africa under a new $40 million contract announced on 24 April… for Intelligence Analysis and Cyber Defense,” the company’s general manager, Yehuda Vered, said. But PREMIUM TIMES was able to tap its sources within the administration to determine that Nigeria is indeed the “unnamed African country.” The contract will help the Jonathan administration access all computers and read all email correspondences of citizens in what is clearly, an infringement on constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression, multiple channels confirmed. On the other hand, politicians in Aso Rock are angry over the disclosure of the contract sum, and what is left of the originally approved sum, our sources say. The administration had indicated in the 2013 budget

that it would procure a Wise Intelligence Network Harvest Analyzer System, Open Source Internet Monitoring System and Personal Internet Surveillance System at a cost of N9.496 Billion ($61.26 million). With the contract awarded to Elbit for about $40million, and the story made public, attention has been drawn to the leftover $21million earmarked for the project. “That money was meant to be shared,” one of our sources said. “It is a security contract and no one will ever ask questions. Now everybody is angry that sharing the money is now difficult.” Investigations indicate that the Isreali company was awarded the contract without tenders or call for bids, just as there were no public announcements. As reported by this newspaper recently, if the Federal Government’s plan sees the light of day, Blue Coat’s technology will allow

the government to invade the privacy of journalists, innocent citizens who browse the internet and their sources. Its censorship devices use Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), a technology employed by many western Internet Service Providers to manage network traffic and suppress unwanted connections. Civic groups have kicked against DPI because, they say, it makes it possible for censors to look into every single Internet Protocol packet and subject it to special treatment

based on content (censored or banned words) or type (email or Voice Over Internet Protocol). DPI not only threatens the principle of Net Neutrality and the privacy of users, civic groups say, it makes single users identifiable and, in countries that flout the rule of law and violate human rights, often exposes them to arbitrary imprisonment, violence or even torture. The new collaborative security stance of

The only time we make use of CCTV cameras is when our investigation takes us to a hotel or mall with security cameras. But if it is a crime committed on a Lagos road, forget it

government, according to investigations, showed government’s realization that the security agencies in the country cannot do it alone without assistance from foreign experts, especially those that have tackled the menace for so many years. Recall also, that a multibillion naira Federal Government project for the installation of security cameras in Abuja and Lagos has become dormant three years after it was awarded under the National Public Service Communication System (NPSCS). The Federal Government, in August 2010 awarded the $470 million (N73.9 billion) contract to Chinese company ZTE for the installation of 2,000 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the two cities with a central control unit at the Police Force Headquarters in Abuja, aimed at helping security agencies in dealing with security challenges. Although, the project, which was supposed to be

Yehuda Vered

President Goodluck Jonathan

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu

completed in July 2011, none has been put to use and at least 130 of the units have been vandalised in Abuja. Sources involved with the project said it is being stifled by government’s lack of “seriousness”, even as security challenges tighten the grip on parts of the country. The project has long been mired in controversy, and a House of Representatives committee instituted an investigation in December 2011, following allegations of breach of the due process in awarding the contract. No report has been made public by the House yet. This development has led to a simmering cold war between the Federal Government and Lagos state government, and is said to be the reason why the Presidency has stopped the Lagos Safe City Project, a scheme aimed at providing 10,000 solarpowered closed circuit cameras all over the

metropolis to help to reduce crime in the state. Curiously, a police source at the State Criminal Investigation Department told a journalist, who was making enquiries on the issue that security cameras had never been used in their investigations. “The only time we make use of CCTV cameras is when our investigation takes us to a hotel or mall with security cameras. But if it is a crime committed on a Lagos road, forget it,” the source said. With the contract awarded to Elbit for about $40million, it is unclear if the National Assembly will raise questions as to what becomes of the extra $21million earmarked for the project. Investigations indicate that in awarding the contract to the Israeli firm, no tenders or calls for bids were made, just as there were no public announcements. The contract was awarded following a proposal from a single vendor

who dictated the contract sum and the terms of the contract. The procedure for public procurement of services, as stipulated by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), the Nigerian agency charged with the duty of ensuring transparency in all matters concerning government contracts, were largely ignored. In addition, there are no public records indicating that the BPP approved this contract. The manner of award directly contravenes the 2007 Public Procurement Act. While the Act gives room for single source contracts, the Elbit contract met none of the requirements under which such special contracts could be awarded. Section 47 (3) (iii) of the 2007 Act stipulates that single source contracts are to be awarded in emergency situations such as “natural disasters or a financial crisis”. Source: Premium Times

Peoples Daily Newspaper, Friday 10, May, 2013  

Peoples Daily Newspaper, Friday 10, May, 2013 Edition

Peoples Daily Newspaper, Friday 10, May, 2013  

Peoples Daily Newspaper, Friday 10, May, 2013 Edition

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