An intercepted conference telephone conversation allegedly between the Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, his Vice Presidential candidate, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa and Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State went viral on social media.
The trios apparent use of unsecured phones 48 hours to the February 25th election, may have allowed their personal communications to be hacked easily.
Meanwhile, an Aide to the former vice president has denied the telephone conversation staying that it carefully edited for sinister.
“As former vice President and governors, they use cellphones that are equipped with sophisticated security features designed to shield their communications, according to two senior administration official of the former vice president Atiku.
Excerpts of the conversation;
ATIKU: There will be need to bring in the INEC
OKOWA: There will be need to interface with INEC and not create suspicion
TAMBUWAL: For me to accept to go into this, let us strategize and discuss the arrangement and how it can be achieved.
ATIKU: Tambuwal, that’s why we are meeting. Let us sit down and find any other technology that may be used to make sure we emerge. We have to look for a way to find loopholes.
OKOWA: We are going to provide for the INEC officials starting from the polling units through to the ward collation centers and I just hope that we are going to find a way to rig the elections. This is the best time.
ATIKU: It is not enough. First of all, you give money to the state INEC. There will be need to bring in the INEC and also make sure they don’t use BVAS. We have seen what the use caused in Osun.
TAMBUWAL: Atiku Abubakar, I am with you on this one.
OKOWA: And you also supervise to make sure we use the Central Bank. We must find a way to get them out of power.
TAMBUWAL: It will be extremely difficult in a way. You see, it depends on certain fundamental indices. If Nigerians are having only two options clearly from two regions, then one of them will be. The numbers will count in this case and we all know the voting strength of each bloc in this country.
OKOWA: It is obviously a major issue. We should look at the things that will bring us result. We must also look at the process that makes one of our best to be president.
TAMBUWAL: I don’t like mistakes. I have won my elections 5 times consecutively. You all know that I have the support of my home base but it is not about me. It is about Atiku Abubakar and making him president.
OKOWA: We cannot act in disregard of normal rule. We must give INEC money to run their normal processes on their own. They must mobilize their people for the purpose of the election. That is going to make a stronger impact. Not the way we are going through.
ATIKU: What are those areas that will be difficult to win in the elections
OKOWA: The INEC officials need to take instructions from the PDP agents and there is no doubt about the process. They will be good enough that is not questionable.
TAMBUWAL: Are you sure that this time we can win the elections?
OKOWA: Yee! It must be done in such a way that it is skewed towards the PDP.
TAMBUWAL: Even with BVAS?
OKOWA: Yes, it is just a question of trying.
Meanwhile Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar has described the audio as fake.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu, Atiku said the clip in circulation was a confirmation of last week’s alert of plans by opponents to deepen its propaganda.
“In this age of artificial intelligence technology, even dead people can be portrayed as delivering speeches. This is nothing new,” Shaibu noted.
The aide recalled Atiku contested two presidential elections and has never been indicted or prosecuted for election violence or vote buying.
Shaibu said the narrative of Atiku manipulating the polls election “is indeed the height of desperation, the last kick of a dying horse”.
The statement told the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Labour Party, LP, that “elections are not won on social media but at the polling units”.
“How can Tambuwal be referring to Atiku by his full name in a one-on-one private conversation? This is nonsensical, similar to the type of meaningless chatter about President Muhammadu Buhari being dead and replaced by one Jubril from Sudan.”
Atiku advised his supporters not to engage in the propaganda war “which had become the style of both the APC and the Labour Party”.
Noting that the presidential election is a watershed in Nigerian history, the flagbearer said the people must not lose sight of what is most important.
The PDP presidential candidate called on the police and other security agencies as well as the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to remain fair and neutral in the polls.