In a report published on September 18, Citizen Lab said it had detected Pegasus, a spyware created for mobile devices, in over 45 countries. Pegasus, which transforms a cellphone into a mobile surveillance station, could have been deployed against a range of journalists and civil society actors in Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Morocco, Togo, Israel, the U.S., and the United Arab Emirates, the report found.
Researchers have previously identified a number of major Pegasus campaigns, including one against investigative journalists in Mexico, and another against human rights workers in Saudi Arabia. The spyware’s presence in 45 countries raises significant implications for journalists, both in terms of their own security as well as the safety of their sources.
The spyware gives the attacker the ability to monitor, record, and collect existing and future data from the phone. This includes calls and information from messaging applications and real-time location data. The spyware is able to remotely activate the camera and microphone to surveil the target and their surroundings.
Pegasus is designed to be installed on phones running Android, BlackBerry OS, and iOS without alerting the target to its presence. Journalists will likely only know if their phone has been infected if the device is inspected by a tech expert.
Pegasus can be installed in a number of ways. Journalists should be aware of these methods and take appropriate steps to protect them and their sources.
Attackers create tailor-made messages that are sent to a specific journalist. These messages convey a sense of urgency and contain a link or a document which the journalist is encouraged to click on. The messages come in a variety of forms, including SMS, email, through messaging apps such as WhatsApp or via messages on social media platforms. Once the journalist has clicked on the link, then the spyware is installed on their phone.
Research by Citizen Lab and Amnesty International found that messages tend to take the following forms: Messages purporting to be from a known organization such as an embassy or a local news organization.
Messages that warn the target may be facing an immediate security threat. Messages that raise any work-related issue, such as covering an event that the target usually reports on.
Messages that make appeals to personal matters, such as those relating to compromising photos of partners. Financial messages that reference purchases, credit cards, or banking details. The suspect messages may also arrive from unknown numbers.
Attackers can target personal and work phones. To better protect themselves and their sources, journalists should:
Verify the link with the sender through a different channel of communication. This should preferably be through video or voice.
If the sender is not previously known to you, secondary channels may not provide successful verification of the links, as secondary channels may be set up by the adversary as part of an elaborate cover identity.
If the link utilizes a URL shortener service like TinyURL or Bitly, input the link into a URL expander service such as Link Expander or URLEX. If the expanded link looks suspicious, for instance mimicking a local news website but not being quite the same, do not click the link and forward it to email@example.com.
If you feel you need to open the link, do not use your primary device. Open the link on a separate, secondary device that does not have any sensitive information or contact details, and is used solely for viewing links. Carry out a factory reset on the device regularly (keeping in mind that this might not remove the spyware). Keep the secondary device turned off, with the battery removed, when not in use.
Use a non-default browser for the phone. Pegasus is believed to target default browsers. The default browser for Android is Chrome and the default browser for iOS is Safari. Use an alternative browser such as Firefox Focus and open the link in that. However, there is no guarantee that Pegasus will not, or has not, already targeted other browsers.
Physically installed by an adversary
Pegasus can also be installed on your phone if an adversary gains physical access to the device. To reduce risk:
Do not leave your device unattended and avoid handing over your phone to others.
When crossing a border or checkpoint ensure that you can see your phone at all times Turn off the phone before arriving at the checkpoint, and have a complex passphrase consisting of both letters and numbers. Be aware that if your phone is taken then the device may be compromised.
If you believe your phone is infected by Pegasus immediately stop using that phone and purchase another one. You should leave the suspected device in a place that does not compromise you or your surroundings. If you have access to tech support through a media organization, contact them immediately for assistance. If you are a freelance journalist or a journalist that does not have access to tech support, contact the Access Now Helpline.
CPJ is working alongside our partners to understand the full scope of the threat Pegasus poses to journalists. If you have received a suspicious message and believe you may have been targeted by Pegasus, please forward the message to firstname.lastname@example.org. This information will be handled confidentially.
For more information on technology security we encourage journalists to review the CPJ’s Security Guide’s Chapter on Technology Security and see the digital safety information included in our Resource Center.
With thanks to Citizen Lab for valuable ins
Sudden postponement: CISLAC demands National Assembly to Urgently Investigate the Abrupt Postponement of Presidential Election
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) is seriously perturbed by sudden postponement of general elections by the Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC) few hours to the Presidential elections and National Assembly elections.This was made known in a statement signed by the Executive Director, CISLAC,Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani) on Saturday.
“While we express unreserved disappointment over the reported poor preparatory processes by the Electoral Body that disproportionately hampered adequate deployment of electoral materials to many parts of the country with resultant postponement, we condemn such abrupt decision informed by deliberate abuse of independent power that may discredit subsequent position by the Commission as an “Independent Body” before national and international observers” Rafsanjani said.
“We are not unaware of systemic conflict of interests and questionable procurement process imbibed by the various positions in the Commission creating tendency for mutual sabotage among the three (3) levels of appointees—National Commissioners, RECs and appointed relatives to the Directors in various Departments.”
“We are concerned by the wastages and losses the postponement would have caused the country, civil society and international community that have committed whopping financial and human resources to deployment and observation missions to ensure free, fair and credible elections that will be acceptable to all.”
Given large presence of youth deployment for anchoring electoral processes and international electoral observation missions across the country, such abrupt postponement is a huge setback to our nation’s democracy which may breed electoral apathy and distrust at all levels.
With the new electoral dates, giving the space of a week extension, we are as well worried for the safety and integrity and security of elections materials which have been disseminated across the country.
Rafsanjani therefore called on the National Assembly to as a matter of urgency constitute an ad hoc Committee to investigate the sudden postponement to clear the Commission of public doubt that her decision was not informed by desperate desires of unjust individuals or groups who wants to assume or sustain power by all illegitimate means.
CISLAC demanded adequate security for both materials and human resources deployed by the Commission so far to the field to avert susceptibility to violations and attacks by unpatriotic individuals or groups across the country.
And called on the Commission to tender unreserved apologies to Nigerian and international observers, who are committed their time, presence and financial resources to monitor the electoral process with assurance that elections would hold as earlier scheduled. These apologies must also be rendered to Nigerian voters who have invested time and resources to sacrifice the day for them to discharge their civic responsibility.
And they also demanded immediate assurances by the Commission that the new electoral date—February 23rd is certain, and the distributed sensitive materials will be kept under appropriate supervision and security till the new date.
” We further encourage civil society groups, media, national and international observation missions to sustain surveillance on the electoral process to promote free, fair and credible elections that will be acceptable to all” the Rafsanjani said further.
SARS Beat Governor Dankwambo’s Cook to Death in Kaduna on his Instruction
The relatives of a deceased, has accused men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of beating to death their son, John Okon, a cook at the Kaduna residence of Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State.
According to the spokesperson of the community, Okon, 32, died as a result of injuries sustained from beatings by the SARS operatives after he was accused of stealing four television sets from the governor’s private residence located along Pola Road, off Swimming Pool Road, Kaduna.
Until his death in a police cell on November 13, Okon lived with his wife, Joy, in the boys quarters of the Governor.
Barr. Gloria Mabeiam Ballason,Esq. the solicitor to the family of Okon, on Thursday addressed journalists about how her client’s husband was allegedly tortured to death.
A petition had been previously been filed to the Presidential Panel. She had petitioned the former Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, over the matter, before his retirement but hope that the new IGP will expedite action on this pending issue to bring the culprit to book.
Excerpt of the petition can be found below:
“We are Solicitor to Mrs. John Okon who former whose husband was an employee of Dankwambo and resided together with her husband now (deceased) within Gombe State Governor, His Excellency, Ibrahim Dankwanbo’s Private Kaduna Residence located along Pola Road, Off Swimming Pool Road Kaduna.
“Mr. John Okon, died on the 13th day of November, 2018 as a result of gruesome serial multiple beatings and torture inflicted on him, while in the custody of men of the Nigerian Police, Special Anti-Robbery Squared (SARS) headed by one SP Jummai of Anti-Crime Department, Gabasawa, Police Headquarters Kaduna.
“Our Client’s husband, now late was employed as personal cook and housekeeper to the Gombe State Executive Governor, at his Kaduna residence as aforementioned, and was serving the Governor in that capacity for about one and the half years before the said incident. While at same time, lived in the Boys quarters of the Governor’s main private Residence, where armed Mobile Police Guards were mounted at the main entrance until, Thursday, 8th day of November, 2018 at about 7am when he woke up in the morning to attend to his daily domestic chore duties in the Governor’s Residence only to discover that the house had been burgled, and (4) Four theatre TV Cinemas were made away with by the burglars.
“He immediately, rushed back to his living apartment in the boys quarter to inform his wife and in their shock and trembling, both Mr. and Mrs. John Okon, alerted all the security guards and gardener, who all slept in the Governor’s Residence together with them, viz: Two (2) Uniform Policemen and 2 other private security guards and the gardener. All of them immediately carried out inspection of the house and wondered who must have broken into the Governor’s house unnoticed and without the usage of keys, moreso, nobody went out at night amongst all the occupants.
“While (4) Four TV Cinemas, stolen couldn’t have been taken away through the main gates to the house unnoticed and unchallenged by the Security guards except through the Perimeter Fence of the Governor’s Private Residence.
“Our Client and all the security guards attached to the Governor’s Residence decided to report the incident to Kabala Costain Police Station, where all of them were immediately arrested and another maintenance roofing worker of the Governor’s House, who came to work on Wednesday 7th November, 2018 on the Governor’s Roof leakages, was called and arrested. They were thereafter all transferred to the Kaduna State Police Headquarters, for further investigations on Friday, 9th November, 2018.
“We were reliably informed, that the case was assigned to the Anti-Crime Department at Gabasawa, Police Station, Kaduna. The Crime Investigation Team was headed by one ASP Jummai and 3 others, who decided to single out our client’s husband, Mr. John Okon, now late for torture, in order to extort by force confessions and viable evidence for their supposed investigation.
“He was so tortured that he could not use his Legs to walk neither was he strong enough to stand for 1 minute after those series of torturing between Friday, 9th November, 2018 and Monday, 12th November, 2018, couple with the fact that he was consistently denied access to the food prepared and taken to him by his wife, who was also arrested on Friday 9th November, 2018 at about 8.30pm and taken to the Anti-Crime Department for interrogation, whereas, her husband was repeatedly beaten in her presence asking him to confess to the crime under durex and where he kept all the stolen TVs Cinemas. While late Mr. John Okon pleaded to be spared from dying apparently from Police repeated battering and torture, his wife, Mrs. John Okon, broke down in tears in the process despite her condition, as she was heavily pregnant, pleaded for her husband innocence and safety from the hands of his oppressors (Police).
“She was ordered later, to be released around 11:30pm by SP Jummai the team head, who participated in the torturing with (2) two other Sergeants and Inspectors.
“It should be noted that between Friday, 9th November to Saturday, 10th November, 2018 our client’s husband could not stand nor walk again with his feets, and had to be brought literally by 2 Police men, about 3 times to the Governor’s Residence, under the guise that they wanted him to confess and lead the Police to where he was keeping the TV theatre Cinemas in the Governor’s Residence.
“It will interest you to note further sir, that Mr. John Okon now late, was not allowed access to see any visitors, nor his wife, except on occasions, when he was literally taken to his apartment in the Governor’s House for search, that she had access to him; neither was he allowed legal representation nor taken to Court in accordance with the Kaduna State Administration of Criminal Justice Law as well as the Constitution of Nigeria after 24 hours of his arrest by the Police until he was tortured to death by the Police on 13th November, 2018.
“Our firm of Legal Practitioners only came into the case on Sunday, 11th day of November, 2018 at about 1pm and considering the time he had over spent with the Police, we met with the investigating Police Officer, who refused to disclose, his name, upon my introducing myself to him, but has 2 Tribal Marks; he only chose to relate Police own side of their investigation but refused me access to the accused person on the ground that I came on a Sunday, and by Police Rules and Regulation, no suspects must be allowed to be seen by anybody over the weekends, their lawyers inclusive.
“We were simply advised to report back on Monday 12th November, 2018, so we left the Police Station at about 4.35pm without setting our eyes on Mr. John Okon.
“We reported back to the Police on Monday, at about 10:30am, only to be told that we needed the permission of the 2 I/C in charge of the team i.e. the team head of the investigation before we could be allowed access to Mr. John Okon, and at that moment, she went for Police briefing with the Commissioner of Police; we observed on our way upstairs to meet with the investigation Police Officers that there was a kind of commotion, in their office with about 3 Police Officers, carrying a supposed suspect already in coma, fainted, being rushed out of the Police Station to a destination they did not know.
“The suspect eventually turned out to be our client’s husband Mr. John Okon, who eventually was confirmed dead at the Barau Diko General Hospital and kept in the Mortuary afterwards.
“We strongly appeal to your esteemed office sir, not only to condemn this gruesome and barbaric act of murder by your men, but to arrest, prosecute and bring them to book and made to face the wrath of the law.
“Incidentally and unfortunately sir, our client the wife of the deceased, had forced labour on Tuesday, 13th day of November, 2018 and delivered of her pregnancy, out of gruesome pains and depression she experienced from her husband’s ordeal, prematurely.
“Neither the Police Commissioner nor the Governor of Gombe State has personally contacted the wife and family of the deceased as at the 15th day of November, 2018, but was told on phone, by same ASP Jummai, that our client died and his corpse was laying at Barau Diko General Hospital Mortuary, Kaduna.
“Sir, your swift intervention, investigation and prosecution of all culprits in the interest of justice in this murderous case is highly solicited for in the circumstance”. Counsel to the petitioner, Barr. Gloria Mabeiam Ballason,Esq. regretted the lack of sanctity to human life in the country. She noted that the country cannot amount to anything worthy, if people do not matter.
Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State in whose house the unfortunate incident started from refused several times to appear before the presidential investigation panel on the Special Anti-Robbery Squad over the death of one of his personal aides. Chairman of the panel who is also the Executive Secretary of the National Human Right Commission, Mr. Tony Ojukwu, said the governor refused to honour the panel’s summon, even when the governor was said to have been in Abuja.
Ojukwu said counsel to the governor knew that the panel was rounding off but “decided to frustrate his coming”
PowerSteering News Magazine gathered that ASP Jummai and indeed Gabasawa Police Station is notorious for such gruesome acts but on this particular case had received express instructions from the governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Danwambo to carry out that act.
Meanwhile, the relatives of the deceased are speculating that their brother has been used for ritual by the politicians who could do all kinds of unimaginable things to further their political aspirations.
Those who have worked closely with the governor alleged that Ibrahim Dankwambo is mean and heartless and considers the lives of the less privileged especially non-northerner to be worthless.
Bogoro’s Giant Strides at TETFund
First published, December 2015
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has come a long way in aid of higher institutions of learning in the country. The release of intervention funds for the building of classrooms, laboratories, well stocked and equipped libraries have no doubt made learning more meaningful and conducive for students in the ivory towers across the country.
The Act 2011 repealed the Education Tax Act Cap E4, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Education Tax Fund (Amendment) Act No.17, 2003 and established TETFund charged with the responsibility of managing and disbursing education tax to public tertiary education institutions in Nigeria. To enable TETFund achieve its objectives, the Act imposes a 2% education tax on the assessable profit of all registered companies in Nigeria.
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) is empowered by the Act to assess and collect the education tax. The Fund administers the tax imposed by the Act and disburses the amount to tertiary educational institutions at federal and state levels. It also monitors the projects executed with the funds allocated to the beneficiaries.
TETFund has become such a strong institution that people hardly know that is headed by an international scholar of repute, Professor Suleiman Elias Bogoro, who is silently pulling the strings in making sure that federal and state-owned tertiary institutions receive the needed support from the federal government.
Nigerians who have been clamoring for strong institutions and not strong individuals can now heave a sigh of relief, if what is happening at TETFund is anything to go by. Since his appointment as the Executive Secretary of TETFund on April 14, 2014, Prof. Bogoro has left no one in doubt as to what he can do with public funds. Given his performance at TETFund, Nigerians especially those in the education sector have continued to shower encomiums on this Professor of Animal Science and Consultant / Project Team Leader on several projects for the World Bank, UNDP, USAID, Nigeria Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), among others.
Stakeholders’ comments on TETFund’s service delivery under the visionary leadership of Bogoro include: “TETFund is one of the agencies that have showed appreciable level of performance” – Leadership newspaper’s opinion poll of July 1, 2015;. “TETFund under Prof. Bogoro is working; taxpayers money is well utilized. If you come to Yabatech, apart from infrastructure, we are now bridging the gap between industry and classroom. Without TETFund, it would have been impossible” – Dr Margaret Ladipo, Rector Yabateh, Lagos; “almost all infrastructures in public institutions can be credited to TETFund” – Dr Hans Senwa, provost College of Education Katsina-Ala, Benue state; “it is a thing of joy for us to associate with Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, an achiever who has greatly used his good office to improve the standard of education in Nigeria” – Prof. Stephen Malo, VC Solomon Lar University, Bokkos, Plateau state.
Others are: “Our major projects are being funded by TETFund under the leadership of Prof. Bogoro, we thank God this bold initiative by TETFund is coming at a time that the University is rated as no one in the country” – Prof. Faraday Orumwense, VC University of Benin; “To God be the Glory that TETFund made funds available in order for us to realize our dreams – “Prof. Edeoga, VC Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia State. “We acknowledge the role TETFund has been playing in helping to fund some of the projects in our institutions” – VC Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University,Bauchi; “We commend Bogoro as a pragmatic administrator for his thoughtfulness and concern for the welfare of his people and education development in Nigeria” – Gen Yakubu Gowon, GCFR. “We praise Bogoro for funding research and infrastructural developments in tertiary institutions” – Prof. Musbau Akanji, VC, FUT, Minna.
“TETFund under Bogoro has become an international brand with some African countries visiting Nigeria to study this organisation in order to replicate same in their respective countries”- Olumide Afolabi, public affairs analyst; “We remain grateful to TETFund under the visionary leadership of Prof. Bogoro for his support on training of teaching and non-teaching staffs as well as on research grants”- Prof. Jelil Oguntola, Acting VC Osun State University; “TETFund under Bogoro is a blessing to Nigerian Tertiary institutions, attributing the success of the college to the agency’s financial support, we commend TETFund for the efficient disbursement of funds to tertiary institutions across the country” – Dr. Emmanuel Adeniyi Provost, College of Education (Special) Oyo state; “We appreciate TETFund for ensuring that theories that were impacted on students of institutions became transformed into practical experience, through series of capacity buildingprogrammes” – VC Federal University of Agriculture,Abeokuta.
We commend TETFund for funding the construction of several modern buildings within the College, among which include Library, a formal and informal building, an ultra-media laboratory, technical and vocational building” – Dr, Patrick Uko, Provost Akwa Ibom state College of Education; “Members of the civil society collation undertook fact finding mission to universities, polytechnics, and specialized colleges in the 6 geo-political zones of the country, and we are proud of what we saw on ground by way of infrastructural development facilitated by TETFund” – Coalition of 13 civil society organizations in Nigeria; “TETFund –sponsored projects situated at Federal Colleges of Education across the country are appreciated and must be protected” – Prof. Monday Joshua, Executive Secretary National Commission for Colleges of Education.
With these opinions of stakeholders in our tertiary institutions of learning across the country on the numerous successes of TETFund under the visionary leadership of Bogoro in just one year of his appointment, the goal of taking the educational sector to the mountain top is realisable.
By Ibrahim: A Public Affairs Analyst, Wrote from Offa, Kwara State
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