Abuja is Listening
Nigerian Communications Commission denies tapping opposition leader phone in leaked audio only the DIA and the NIA have the capability
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has denied an allegation that it is involved in tracking and leaking of telephone conversations. in a press statement released Tuesday in Abuja, following the uproar over the tracking and leakage of the alleged conversation between the Founder of Living Faith Church, Bishop Oyedepo and presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) and opposition leader Peter Obi.
“The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has been deluged with enquiries by the media on allegations of telephone “tracking” and “leakage” made against the Commission by some individuals and groups on t social and alternative media.
“The Commission wishes to make the following clarifications: “I. The Commission denies the allegations in their entirety.
“II. By the provisions of the Nigerian Communication Act (NCA) 2003 and other extant Laws of the Federation, the Commission does not and cannot “track” nor “leak” telephone conversations of anyone.” Director of Public Affairs, Reuben Muoka noted.
Only two federal agencies the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) have the capability to snoop on telecom devices.
In 2020, the University of Toronto Munck School of Global Affairs in a December 1 report said that the DIA has acquired the services of surveillance firm called Circles that reportedly exploits weaknesses in the global mobile phone system to snoop on calls, texts, and the location of phones around the globe. Circles is affiliated with NSO Group, which develops the Pegasus spyware.
Circles, whose products work without hacking the phone itself, says they sell only to governments. According to leaked documents, Circles customers can purchase a system that they connect to their local telecommunications infrastructure, or can use a separate system called the “Circles Cloud,” which interconnects with telecommunications companies around the world.
In 2021, Nigerian news reports the the National Assembly (NASS) approved N20 billion to the DIA and the NIA to upgrade their spy facilities in Abuja to fight cybercrime and terrorism. Using the Circles system they can now intercept and monitor calls, messages and social media accounts likely to endanger lives.
“The N20billion allocation covers deployment and enhancement of infrastructure for cyber intelligence, lawful interception of voice, data and tactical mobile geological platform.” A source within NASS confirmed.
The DIA and NIA on their part said it has become crucial for their agents to tackle activities of criminals, terrorists and other elements that threaten national security with information technology tools.
“The budgetary approval will go a long way in monitoring calls and messages, Facebook, WhatsApp, Thuraya satellite phone, etc.,” The NASS source stated.
Akowe with reports from Abuja