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Buhari purchased spying tools to monitor Nigerians’ calls, text messages – Toronto University

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Anewly-released research has found that the Defence Intelligence Agency under President Muhammadu Buhari has procured tools to spy on Nigerians when they make telephone calls or send text messages.

The report, titled Running in Circles: Uncovering the Clients of Cyber-espionage Firm Circles, was published this December by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab. It found that the DIA contracted a cyber-espionage firm Circles to help spy on opposition figures, journalists and protesters.

The privacy rights researchers said Circles had been linked with NSO Group, an Israeli spyware manufacturer widely notorious for its intrusion into the private lives of journalists and dissidents across the world.

The NSO developed the infamous Pegasus software, which has capabilities to take over mobile phone cameras and steal user’s data for onward transmission to its contracting governments across the globe.

The Citizen Lab said it traced a suspicious IP address to the DIA headquarters in Abuja.

“One system may be operated by the same entity as one of the Nigerian customers of the FinFisher spyware that we detected in December 2014,” the experts said. “The other client appears to be the Nigerian Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), as its firewall IPs are in AS37258, a block of IP addresses registered to “HQ Defence Intelligence Agency Asokoro, Nigeria, Abuja.”

Mr. Buhari has come under relentless criticism for his crackdown on journalists and rights activists, amidst allegations that he had eroded the nation’s civic space gains since the return of democracy in 1999. Mr. Buhari, a military dictator from the 1980s, denied allegations of rights violations, saying he was long ready to conform with democratic norms.

Multiple sources said the DIA, a branch of Nigeria’s military, was involved in spying on Nigerians who played prominent roles in the historic #EndSARS campaign in October.

Both the State House and the Defence Headquarters did not return Peoples Gazette’s requests seeking comments about the Toronto University’s report on Tuesday morning.

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