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Thursday, April 14

Controversy as SaharaReporters Publisher, Sowore Accuses Bukola Saraki of Identity Theft

Controversy as SaharaReporters Publisher, Sowore Accuses Bukola Saraki of Identity Theft

Senate President, Bukola Saraki

Embattled Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has been highly blamed by the publisher of Sahara Reporters for an online identity theft onslaught on the newspaper.

The publisher of Sahara Reporters has blamed Nigeria’s embattled Senate President, Bukola Saraki, for an online identity theft onslaught on the newspaper.

Sahara Reporters, a U.S. based online leak website with special focus on Nigeria, said it is confident the Nigerian senate president, who is facing charges of false asset declaration, is masterminding proliferation of imitation digital profiles of the newspaper aimed at passing down lies to the public while disguising as Sahara Reporters.

The publisher, Omoyele Sowore, said his team knocked out three fake websites since it began battling the identity theft scheme in January 2015. Sahara Reporters has been able to knock down the faking websites on Google, Web4Africa and Twitter. “The only one left is a Facebook account,” Mr. Sowore said.

The outstanding fake account is named Sahara Reporters Rescue. It mimics all branding features of the original Sahara reporters with insignificant modifications and has managed to deceive about 30 thousand people while passing down content glowing with praises and defence for the embattled Senate President.

It’s bio is an exact copy-and-paste version of the original Sahara Reporters. “I know Saraki is directly behind it,” Mr. Sowore said, explaining that he’s only concerned the public might mistake the page for the original Sahara Reporters.

Identity theft is an emerging fraud in the Nigerian cyberspace, mainly used by politicians to clone digital identities of critical media house with the aim of using the clone to pass down propagandist inform, faking endorsement. It is a form of cyber attack that utilizes deception, rather than the brute force of DDoS attacks.

Premium Times was a victim of similar attacks. The latest is by individuals linked to the current governor of River State, Nyesom Wike.

While many other digital businesses treat identity theft with urgency and seriousness, Facebook is notorious for allowing the crime to thrive. Facebook’s policy makes fighting down clones and replicas almost impossible for the victim through a clumsy reporting process that has made the platform a haven for pirates.

The Pirate

The suspected pirate is Osinuga Oriola Mcleish, a blogger and member of the Kwara All Progressives’ Congress. Although Mr. Osinuga denies the crime, investigations traced his digital footprints on the downed websites and the fake Sahara Reporters Facebook Page.

“I don’t know anything about it,” Mr. Osinuga said before hanging up on an interview.

The Saraki New Media team also denied involvement in the crime. “Sahara Reporters is not that important for me to waste my time on,” Bankole Omishore, a New Media aide to the Senate President, Saraki, told Premium Times. “We no longer monitor Sahara Reporters.”

Mr. Omishore said Sahara Reporters was unjustly critical of his boss, claiming the newspaper was hired to promote a propaganda to sack his boss.

The publisher of Sahara Reporter denies any personal grievances with the senate president, saying , “I have beef with thieves. I’ve been covering Saraki since 2005 with the same tenacity I covered (James) Ibori,” he said. “I know very well he (Saraki) has stolen a lot of money and should not be Nigeria’s number three man.”

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