The Bayelsa state government has allegedly paid close to N100 million to an Italian firm, Hacking Team, to hack mobile devices and computers of Nigerians, according to leaked internal data from the firm.
Hacking Team is known worldwide for equipping governments with tools to hack citizens’ computers and phones and had itself been hacked by an unknown group which released 415 gigabyte of Hacking Team's internal data to the public.
Apart from working for the Bayelsa state government, the firm has also been involved with repressive governments, including Sudan, Russia, and Bahrain.
According to Premium Times, the documents show that Bayelsa state government paid the team an incredible sum of N98 million to look into the affairs of Nigerians.
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The contract was signed in late 2013, as of now the details of the work carried out by the firm for the Bayelsa state government is yet to be ascertained.
The contract was classed as “intelligence ” – the same class with contracts the firm unlawfully held with Russia and Sudan.
The N98m is roughly equal to the amount paid by the Russian government to the firm for the maintenance of its Remote Control System. And worth more than what Turkey, Columbia and Bahrain paid to the firm.
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Hacking Team is noted as developers of intrusive softwares and ironically had their Twitter account hacked by the hackers who revealed their business deals.
Hacking Team had boasted of their Remote Control Systems, which they said could even compromise most operating systems, except iOS – but including jail-broken iOS.
They even had a video commercial in which they boasted of their software's ability to hack offline and encrypted computers and smartphones, even if the target was outside the government’s “monitoring domain”.
Reporters Without Borders named the firm as one of the Enemies of the Internet index due to its primary surveillance tool, Da Vinci.
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Co-founder David Vincenzetti had in one of the leaked internal emails described the firm’s product as the “evilest” technology ever developed on earth.
As for why the Bayelsa state governor, paid for such service, is still unclear for now but during the time of the purchase of the service, the state wasn't under any external cyber aggression.
Bayelsa State Governor had notoriously persecuted an individual over critical Facebook comments during the run-up to the 2015 general elections.
This is not the first time a Bayelsa state governor has been linked with a hacking team, former governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha allegedly signed a contract with Israeli owned V&V, which is responsible for the supply of many government hacking tools in Nigeria.