2019 Election comment: NITDA accuses media of taking sensationalism too far

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Cyber security, Nigeria, NITDA, Isa Pantami

 

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has denied media reports ascribing that its Director General, Dr. Isa Pantami categorically stated that the 2019 general election will be compromised by cyber terrorists.

The IT clearing house agency described the statement as sensationalism gone awry, stressing that  the Agency is not aware of any plan to disrupt the 2019 general election, but is proactively working with INEC and other stakeholders to ensure the security of election and voting IT Infrastructure.

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In a statement seen as a response to the publication in the media, which was signed by Mrs Hadiza Umar, Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations, NITDA noted that its original statement is ‘If proper IT security measures are not put in place, terrorists may disrupt the national elections by hacking into INEC voter register database; they can disrupt the banking system by hacking into and taking over the Bank Verification Number (BVN) platform. They can critically disrupt the national economy by cyber-jacking the Treasury Single Account (TSA) software etc.’

The statement reads in parts: “Our attention has been drawn to the news making the rounds in some media outlets ascribing certain statements to Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, the Director General/CEO of NITDA. The statement, for all intent and purpose, is quoted out of context. The Director General was invited to the ISACA Abuja Chapter event to speak on Security and Privacy: Towards the Development of a Vibrant National IT Governance Structure. Due to other commitments, the Director General is out of the country on official assignment and was represented at the event by Dr Usman Gambo Abdullahi, Director IT Infrastructure Solutions. The extant portion of the speech is reproduced below for the public’s attention:

“This statement, made at an IT Security Conference, was aimed at explaining the dangerous possibilities of a lax national cybersecurity system. However, the way it was carried in the press gave the impression that there was verifiable and imminent threat of terrorist attack on the 2019 general election.”

NITDA added that as the IT Sector Regulator, it has prioritized Cybersecurity as one of its seven strategic focus areas, emphasizing that public awareness through capacity building workshops for relevant stakeholders in the states has so far been conducted in the North West, South South and North East zones while the train moves on to other zones shortly. As indicated earlier, the Agency has developed a strong partnership with relevant agencies including INEC, CBN, NIMC, NIS, FIRS, CAC, ONSA, etc. for the purpose of effectively securing Nigerian cyberspace.

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