A French newspaper Le Monde and The Intercept recently published a new series of reports about massive British Intelligence Service (GCHQ) spy operations across Africa (including Nigeria) between 2009 and 2010. The report according to the newspaper were based on documents provided by the US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Below are some interesting excerpts from the report:
British agents listened in on phone calls by President Umaru Yar’Adua, his aide-de-camp and his main advisers, including his principal private secretary and his special adviser. GCHQ also targeted the vice-president of the continent’s most populous country and the largest economic power in the region. As the Nigerian head of state was already sick (he died on 5 May 2010), his successor Goodluck Jonathan’s phone line was also on the list of planned intercepts.
The intercept lists from 2009 seen by Le Monde also feature several former heads of state and prime ministers whom the British and their allies appear to have continued to follow closely. The names include the former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007) and his counterpart in Sierra Leone, Ahmed Tejan Kabbah (1998-2007).
The lists also feature some of the continents’ leading businessmen and bankers including the Kenyan Chris Kirubi. The Nigerian billionaire Tony Elumelu, regarded as one of Africa’s richest and most influential men, was also targeted by British agents in 2009. A friend of Nigeria’s then president Umaru Yar’Adua, Elumelu was at the helm of the United Bank for Africa (UBA).
The data includes the contact details of the Nigerian ministers of finance and oil, as well as those of various telecommunications operators and of major banks such as Zenith Bank. There are also details about the immensely wealthy Dahiru Mangal, the region’s smuggling kingpin, who hails from Katsina like the Nigerian president, and provides financial backing to his own president and to the head of state of Niger. In Lagos, Nigeria’s economic capital, the British made sure that they listened in on the telecommunications of the Africa Finance Corporation, a pan-African financial institution that funds infrastructure investment.