There are indications that the safety of agents of the State Security Service has been compromised with personnel records of current and former operatives leaked on the internet, Associated Press reports.
The leak, sources said, was already creating panic among SSS operatives and other employees of the agency.
About 60 agents, including the Director-General of the SSS, Ekpeyong Ita, and other serving and former employees, reportedly had their names, mobile phone numbers, contact and bank account information listed on the internet.
Many of the ‘exposed’ agents, according to AP reports on Thursday, expressed worries and embarrassment at the leakage of their private details.
The SSS deputy Director of Media and Public Relations, Marilyn Ogar, said the AP report was false.
“The report is false because the AP reporter that filed the story failed to give me the link to the website that allegedly published the personal data of our personnel” Ogar said
“How come it was only the AP reporter that saw the website? Besides, he had published his story before calling me for reactions. That is what he did the other time when he published a false report that government planned to build a special prison for Boko Haram suspects in Lagos; I don’t know where he gets these unsubstantiated stories that he published,”
The exposed agents also said they were not contacted nor warned by the secret service agency. Instead, colleagues and other former agents called each other to spread the news.
“It’s worrying that they have access to that,” AP quoted one of the former agents who spoke on the leak as saying. The ex- agent reportedly said he was happy that he lives in the Christian-dominated Southern part of the country.
“Those living in Abuja (and other parts of the North) are the ones who should be living in fear,” he told the United States newswire.
According to the AP report, another serving agent whose name appeared on the internet and who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “This is a national embarrassment.”
“I was shocked to see my details posted on the Internet. I’ve not heard anything from anybody. I was surprised that such information could be leaked,” he added.
The person behind the leak was suspected to be a member of the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
Many agents for the secret agency created in 1986 by ex-dictator, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, mostly conceal their identities.
The information leak reportedly came in two postings earlier this month on a website that provides rewritten news on Nigeria.
The first posting threatened the killing of agents of the SSS on behalf of Boko Haram, while the second simply offered a block of text containing biographical and other details about the agents.
AP reports that the details were accessible to all for days and that though they (details) had been deleted and the stream of comments removed, it refused to ”identify the website involved as cached versions of the comments remain online.”
Another man on the list said he simply once served as a doctor to help the agency on an on-call basis only.
The list appeared to include lower-ranking agents, as well as one-time state directors of the SSS.
Some of those contacted by the AP 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.
The release of the information on the serving and ex- SSS agents came as the country’s intelligence agencies have made a series of blunders in trying to fight Boko Haram.
The sect has for the past two years engaged the government in bombing campaigns, especially in the northern region and the Federal Capital Territory.
Intelligence agencies allegedly released a suspected Islamic radical in 2007, who later masterminded Boko Haram’s suicide car bombing of the United Nations headquarters in August 2011. At least 25 people died in the attack and more than 100 wounded.
A leaked US diplomatic cable also showed US officials complaining in 2008 about Nigeria’s government quietly releasing other suspects into the custody of Islamic leaders as part of a programme it called “Perception Management.”
Another US diplomatic cable complained that SSS agents nearly let a suspected bomb maker trained by the Somali terror group, al-Shabab, onto an international flight, despite an Interpol notice for his arrest.
The agents who allegedly tried to release Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed “not only knew about the Interpol notice, but simply said they did not want to hold him any longer,” the February 2010 cable read.
Ahmed, an Eritrean, reportedly pleaded guilty to charges in June in a US federal court that he supported terrorism by associating with al-Shabab, a terror group with links to al-Qaida.
He faces up to 10 years in prison.
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