Nigeria ex-leader ‘unaware’ of Cambridge Analytica campaign role

Former Nigeria’s leader Goodluck Jonathan, a defeated president.

 ABUJA, Nigeria––Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan “wasn’t aware” of any use of Cambridge Analytica in his 2015 bid for re-election, his spokesman said Thursday.  The Nigerian government is investigating claims that Cambridge Analytica, a British-based political consultancy, illegally used Facebook data in past election campaigns.

The Nigerian government said it was probing whether the firm broke the law to wage “a campaign to perpetuate discord and hack into personal records of the then leading opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari,” according to a press statement released Sunday.

The statement also said, the campaign also included “anti-election rallies” and a gory video depicting Buhari as an Islamic fundamentalist on a quest to enforce Sharia law in Nigeria.

Spokesman Ikechukwu Eze said on Thursday, “He wasn’t aware of it,” referring to former president Jonathan.

Questioned about the ongoing investigation, Eze replied: “The best thing to do is to wait for the conclusion of the investigation.”

President Buhari’s spokesman Garba Shehu said: “There is a significant and great urgency attached to the work. As a matter of fact, as I speak to you, I am aware they are putting together that report.”

“The idea is, are there things we can do to ensure that this doesn’t happen again in the country so that we safeguard future elections from this kind of foreign interference,” Shehu maintained.

Former Nigerian president Jonathan was elected president in 2010, losing to the present incumbent, Buhari, in the 2015 vote.

British and the U. S. regulators are investigating claims that Cambridge Analytica unlawfully used Facebook data for political ends in a mushrooming privacy scandal that has cast the spotlight on data protection and users’ privacy.

The UK-based firm has been linked to electoral campaigns and processes around the world, including for US President Donald Trump and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

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Dave Okonjie

Dave Okonjie is a public affairs analyst, researcher and senior issues correspondent.
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