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Dickson, Bayelsa Governor Pays N100m to Italians to Hack Phones in Nigeria

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Bayelsa state government paid close to one hundred million naira to Hacking Team, an Italian firm, to hack computers and phones in Nigeria, according to Premium Times.

Premium Times pointing at new information emerging from the firm’s leaked internal data reported that  Hacking Team is notorious for equipping governments with tools to hack citizens’ computers and phones, was itself hacked Sunday night and 415 gigabyte of internal data leaked to the public.

Researchers have been pouring through the leaked documents since it was first leaked Sunday night, throwing up many shocking details of the firm’s secret dealings with Bayelsa state and other repressive governments, including Sudan, Russia, and Bahrain.

Documents seen by Premium Times show that the Bayelsa government, a small state in Nigeria’s oil rich Niger Delta, paid Hacking Team N98 million to carry out internet attacks, in what appears to be the most ambitious hacking project by a Nigerian state government.

The contract was signed in late 2013, Hacking Team’s internal documents, leaked after the Sunday night hack attack on the company, show.

Details of the extent of the attacks Hacking Team carried out on behalf of the state is not clear at the moment.

The contract with the Bayelsa government is classed “intelligence” – the same class with contracts the firm unlawfully held with Russia and Sudan.

The cost of Bayelsa government’s contract with the firm is equivalent to what the Russian government recently paid the firm for maintenance of its Remote Control System. And worth more than what Turkey, Columbia and Bahrain paid to the firm.

Hacking Team, now learning how it feels to have one’s privacy breached, is notorious for developing intrusive softwares for state clients who use them to hack citizen’s computers and smartphones. Hacking Team’s twitter account was hacked and used to announce the hack.

The firm claims its intrusion softwares – Remote Control Systems – are the most invasive and ruthless, with ability to compromise most operating systems, except iOS – but including jail-broken iOS.

In one video commercial, it boasted that its software could hack offline and encrypted computers and smartphones, even if the target was outside the government’s “monitoring domain”.

Hacking Team’s Remote Control Systems are more dangerous and intrusive than the WISE technology the Nigerian government bought from Israeli company, Elbit in 2013.

While WISE depended on transmitted data such as voice calls, social media postings, and number plates, Hacking Team specialized in software that had full capabilities to hack, compromise your gadget and silently steal stored data like SMS, Whatsapp messages, call records, and photos.

Galileo, one of the company’s most evil softwares, is also able to secretly take snapshots and record conversations of its victims.

Hacking Team is loathed by digital activists and freedom of expression advocates all over the world for helping oppressive regimes abuses citizens’ right to privacy and freedom of speech.

Reporters Without Borders listed the firm on its Enemies of the Internet index due to its primary surveillance tool, Da Vinci.

Few weeks ago, co-founder David Vincenzetti joked in emails about how bad a leak would be for Hacking Team. In one of the leaked internal emails, he described the firm’s product as the “evilest” technology ever developed on earth.

The hacking software is originally designed as a country-wide attack tool.

The intentions of the Bayelsa state government in purchasing the software is unclear at this time.

As at the time the Bayelsa state government acquired the software, the state was not known to be under any external cyber aggression.

But it’s governor, Seriake Dickson, was persecuting a citizen over critical Facebook comments.

It was also in the run-up to the 2015 general elections.

During the same period, Premium Times and few other Nigerian news organisations believed to be critical of the former regime, led by Goodluck Jonathan, suffered several cyber attacks.

Mr. Jonathan is from Bayelsa state and enjoyed absolute loyalty from Mr. Dickson at the time.

Hacking Team did not sell its software directly to the Bayelsa state government. The transaction was channeled through an Israeli company, NICE, and then V&V Nigeria.

V&V, also Israeli-owned, is known to have close relationship with former Bayelsa state governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.

V&V is responsible for the supply of many government hacking tools in Nigeria. Premium Times had earlier this year exclusively reported how V&V won a N6 billion contract, back in 2010, for a N6 billion strategic GSM Tracking System for the Nigeria Police Force and expansion/upgrade of the existing system with Nigeria’s secret police, the State Security Service.

The Bayelsa Governor could not be reached to comment for this story.

His spokesperson, Daniel Iworiso-Markson did not answer or return calls seeking comment. He is also yet to respond to a text message sent to him. And so also is Dan Kikile, the state commissioner for information


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FG Bans Emirates Airlines from Operating in Nigeria

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Federal Government has included Emirates Airlines in the list of airlines not allowed to operate in Nigeria.

FG Bans Emirates Airlines from Operating in Nigeria

This is part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

Hadi Sirika, minister of Aviation, confirmed this via his Twitter handle on Friday.

According to Sirika, the decision was taken following a meeting between the Presidential Task Force (PTF) and European Unions (EU).

The ban would take effect from Monday, September 21, 2020.

“The PTF sub-committee met today with EU Ambassadors to discuss Lufthansa, Air France/KLM ban.

“The meeting progressed well. Emirates Airlines’s situation was reviewed and they are consequently included in the list of those not approved, with effect from Monday the 21st September 2020,” Sirika tweeted.


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Facebook to Open Office in Lagos

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As part of its continued commitment and on-going investment in Africa, Facebook announced it will be opening an office in Lagos, Nigeria – its second office on the African continent.

Aimed at supporting the entire Sub-Saharan Africa region, the office is expected to become operational in H2 2021 and will be the first on the continent to house a team of expert engineers building for the future of Africa and beyond.

Facebook’s office will be home to various teams servicing the continent from across the business, including Sales, Partnerships, Policy, Communications as well as Engineers.

Commenting, Ime Archibong, Facebook’s Head of New Product Experimentation said: “The opening of our new office in Lagos, Nigeria presents new and exciting opportunities in digital innovations to be developed from the continent and taken to the rest of the world.

“All across Africa we’re seeing immense talent in the tech ecosystem, and I’m proud that with the upcoming opening of our new office, we’ll be building products for the future of Africa, and the rest of the world, with Africans at the helm. We look forward to contributing further to the African tech ecosystem.”

The investment of the new Facebook office follows the 2018 opening of NG_Hub, its first flagship community hub space in Africa in partnership with CcHub, and the 2019 opening of a Small Business Group (SBG) Operations Centre in Lagos, in partnership with Teleperformance.

Providing outsourced support to all English-speaking advertisers across Sub-Saharan Africa, the SBG office supports Small Medium Businesses (SMBs) through its Advocacy, Community & Education (ACE) programme, as well as its Marketing Expert sales programmes – all aimed at enabling SMBs to accelerate the growth and development of their businesses.

“Our new office in Nigeria presents an important milestone which further reinforces our ongoing commitment to the region”, commented Kojo Boakye, Facebook’s Director of Public Policy, Africa. “Our mission in Africa is no different to elsewhere in the world – to build community and bring the world closer together, and I’m excited about the possibilities that this will create, not just in Nigeria, but across Africa.”

Since the opening of its first office in 2015, Facebook has made a number of investments across the continent, aimed at supporting and growing the tech ecosystem, expanding and providing reliable connectivity infrastructures and helping businesses to grow locally, regionally and globally.

This includes the recent rollout of its SMB Grants programme in Nigeria and South Africa, aimed at supporting over 900 businesses by providing a combination of cash and ad credits to help small businesses as they rebuild from COVID.

The development of 2Africa, the world’s largest subsea cable project that will deliver much needed internet capacity and reliability across large parts of Africa, as well as its ongoing training programmes across the continent which support various communities including students, SMBs, digital creatives, female entrepreneurs, start-up’s and developers.

Nunu Ntshingila, Regional Director, Facebook Africa, said: “We’re delighted to be announcing our new office in Nigeria. Five years on from opening our first office on the continent in Johannesburg, South Africa, we’re continuing to invest in and support local talent, as well as the various communities that use our platforms.

“The office in Lagos will also be key in helping to expand how we service our clients across the continent.”


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Victor Osimhen Set Make His Debut For Napoli As Lampard Up Against Familiar Foes

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Football fans will enjoy another great weekend of football action as the new football season in Europe continues this weekend on DStv and GOtv.

The pick of Premier League matches this weekend is the meeting of Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday 20 September, which will air live at 4:30pm on SS Premier League.

The Reds completed a league ‘double’ over the Blues last season, with the teams’ most recent meeting a 5-3 win for the Merseyside club in July.

Liverpool supporters have been concerned at their club’s relative lack of action in the transfer market (certainly compared to Chelsea, who have recruited heavily and brought in world-class talent such as Moroccan attacking midfielder Hakim Ziyech, for example), but manager Jurgen Klopp insists he prefers working with a smaller group of players.

Lille’s Victor Osimhen in action during a UEFA Champions League soccer group stage match between Valencia CF and OSC Lille at Mestalla stadium on 05 November 2019. EPA/Kai Foersterling

Elsewhere, Manchester United will open their campaign with a clash at home to Crystal Palace in the early-evening kick-off on Saturday 19 September, on SS Premier League at 5:30pm.

It will be the first chance for new Red Devils signing Donny van de Beek to have a taste of competitive English football.

Also on Saturday, Everton will face West Bromwich Albion at 12:20pm while Leeds United will face Fulham at 3pm with the day closing off with Arsenal vs West Ham United at 8pm, all on SS Premier League.

The Premier League matches for the weekend will continue on Sunday 20 September with Southampton vs Tottenham Hotspur at 12pm, Newcastle United vs Brighton & Hove Albion at 2pm and Leicester City vs Burnley at 7pm, all live on SS Premier League. On Monday 21 September, Aston Vila vs Sheffield United will air at 6pm and Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester City at 8:15pm both live on SS Premier League.

This weekend’s La Liga sees the return to action for champions Real Madrid, who open the defence of their title with a match away to Real Sociedad at Sam Sebastian on the evening of Sunday 20 September showing live on SS La Liga, SS GOtv La Liga and SS GOtv Football at 8:00pm.

La Liga is packed this weekend with other exciting matches airing live on SS La Liga and SS GOtv La Liga. Getafe vs Osasuna will air at 8pm on Friday 18 September, while Villarreal v Eibar at 3pm and Celta Vigo vs Valencia at 8pm will both air on Saturday 19 September.

On Sunday 29 September, Huesca will clash with Cadiz at 3pm and Granada will face Deportivo Alaves at 5:30pm. GOtv will crown the weekend matches with Real Betis vs Real Valladolid at 8pm on Monday 21 September

Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma (left) and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool.

The headline match from Italy’s topflight this weekend sees champions Juventus open the defence of their title with a match at home to Sampdoria in the late kick-off on Sunday 20 September at 7:45pm on SS Football, SS Variety 3 and SS GOtv Select 1.

All eyes will be on new manager, Andrea Pirlo, who replaced Maurizio Sarri at the head of the Bianconeri in the off season.

Another key game this weekend will give Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen the chance to make his competitive debut for Napoli when they face Parma on Sunday afternoon, having joined the club for a huge fee from Lille a few weeks back. This will air at 11:30am live on SS Football, SS Variety 3, SS GOtv Select 1 and SS GOtv Football.

SuperSport remains the only platform to get English commentary from the legendary La Liga.

Don’t miss the 2020-21 football season on SuperSport on DStv and GOtv. Visit www.dstvafrica.com and www.gotvafrica.com to subscribe or upgrade and join in on the excitement. While you’re on the move, you can stream matches on DStv Now.

 


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