Anonymous Nigeria has taken over the website of Nigeria’s National Industrial Court and also targeted the official website of Edo State Government. Hackers had also hacked the Twitter account of the National Broadcasting Commission.
On the homepage of the court’s website, the hackers wrote the hastags #OpNigeria #EndSARSProtest #EndSARS #EndSarsNow and #EndPoliceBrutality In the document seen by The Guardian on Friday, details of hundreds of contract approved by the Edo State Government were dumped on Pastebin by Anonymous on Thursday.
The document showed project ID, date of approval, the cost and category of some of the contracts in 2019 and 2020. The names of companies to which some of the contracts were awarded were also included in the leaked documents. The hackers alleged that some contractors were paid for doing nothing. In Nigeria, such a situation is rife. “You got paid for these contracts but never delivered the job, received billions but spent nothing,” Anonymous said on Twitter. But the Edo State government has denied the allegations, in fact, it said the documents were fake.
Crusoe Osagie, Edo State governor’s spokesman, in a phone chat with The Guardian on Friday said the documents on the state official websites are for public consumption but said the ones leaked by the hacktivists were “fake”. “Our website in Edo State is not for hiding documents, it is for putting documents out there for the public. So you don’t need to hack our website to see things that were put there,” Osagie said.
“If you claim you hack our website to get documents that means whatever they are putting out there is fake because our website is not that one we hide documents in,” he added. Although the Anonymous Wednesday night said it has hacked “multiple” Nigerian Government websites as protests against police brutality, the Edo State government is one of the first two government websites to be exposed.
It also shared a Pastebin document that seemed to contain confidential information on police personnel Wednesday. The group created a dedicated Twitter for its Nigerian operations on October 12, telling the government to “expect us”. Another handle @AnonyNig is also active in the hacktivism.
Anger over abuses by the police’s notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) erupted onto the streets earlier this month, forcing the government to announce they were scrapping the unit as part of wider police reforms. The authorities pledged a raft of measures including the release of demonstrators from custody and the setting up, within a week, of an independent body to probe violations.
The government has also acted on a demand to provide psychological evaluation and training to disbanded SARS officials prior to their re-deployment. But frustration is running high among Nigeria’s youth who face the brunt of abuses as well as a lack of opportunities, and many insist they will keep protesting. Several hundred people were gathered in Abuja on Wednesday when witnesses said they were attacked.
“A group of boys, maybe 30 of them, 16 to 20 years old, clearly high on drugs, arrived and started destroying our cars,” 28-year-old Esther Jonathan told AFP. Human rights activist Aisha Yusufu said paying thugs to crack down on protestors was a known tactic in Nigeria. “This is something they did to us before,” Yusufu told AFP. “They attacked us in 2014 under the watchful eyes of the police, and that is what they have done again in 2020.”
In Ikeja, in Lagos state, several witnesses said that men with machetes and axes attempted to attack demonstrators, but were stopped and handed over to the police.