News24

Nigerian spy agency details leaked

2012-08-30 16:04

Lagos - The Associated Press has learned that personnel records of former and current members of Nigeria's top domestic spy agency, including home addresses and names of immediate family members, were leaked onto the internet.

The data about more than 60 employees of Nigeria's State Security Service remained easily accessible on the internet for days. It also had details about the agency's director-general, including his mobile phone number, bank account details and contact information for his son.

The material, posted by someone who claimed to be a member of a radical Islamist sect, has since been deleted from the comment section of a website. However, cached versions of the material remain on the internet.

Monitoring domestic dissent

A State Security Service spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

The State Security Service, created in 1986 by then-military ruler General Ibrahim Babangida, monitors domestic dissent in the oil-rich nation of more than 160 million people.

 Though geared toward stopping terrorism and destabilising coups, the agency routinely faces criticism for targeting government critics.

The information leak came in two postings earlier this month on a website that provides rewritten news on Nigeria. The first posting threatened to kill agents of the State Security Service on behalf of Boko Haram, a radical Islamist sect responsible for more than 660 killings this year alone in Nigeria.

The second posting simply offered a block of text containing biographical and other details about the agents.

Though the comments have been removed, the AP is not identifying the website involved as cached versions of the comments remain online and intelligence service agents have been killed by Boko Haram members in the past.

Boko Haram ties

Some of those contacted suggested that the list appeared to come from the agency's pension department, as it mostly included retirees and listed bank account information for nearly all those named.

It is unclear if the person who posted the information online really does have ties to Boko Haram, which has targeted security officials in the past.

Violence has been centred mostly in the country's Muslim north. One retired agent who spoke to AP said he was grateful he lives in the largely Christian south, away from the sect's attacks.

"It's worrying that they have access to that," the agent said. "Those living in Abuja (and the north) are the ones who should living in fear."