SCL Elections, a public relations firm that later became Cambridge Analytica, manipulated Nigeria’s 2007 by organising campaigns to weaken the chances of opposition parties, the BBC reported on Sunday.
The broadcaster said the company organised “anti-election rallies” to demoralise opposition supporters from voting in the elections, which saw the emergence of Umar Yar’Adua as Nigeria’s president.
The election was widely disputed and condemned by observers as a “charade”.
Mr. Yar’Adua, who died in office in 2010, personally admitted that the process was flawed and convened a government of national unity.
Muhammadu Buhari, Atiku Abubakar and Orji Kalu came second, third and fourth, respectively, in that election.
The revelations come in the wake of ongoing controversies surrounding the activities of Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based company. The firm was accused of obtaining data of Facebook users for election strategic that have been called into question across the world.
Earlier this week, the UK Guardian reported that Cambridge Analytica interfered in Nigeria’s 2015 elections by hiring hackers believed to be Israeli to dig up dirt on President Muhammadu Buhari, candidate of the then-opposition All Progressives Congress.
The identity of the person who paid Cambridge Analytica for its services was not immediately disclosed, but the Guardian described him as a Nigerian businessman with who wanted to ensure former President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election. He reportedly paid $2 million.
A spokesperson for the British High Commission in Abuja, Joe Abuku, said he couldn’t immediately comment on the matter because he didn’t have details.
A Foreign Office spokesperson denied the allegations that SCL Elections had links to the UK High Commission offices in countries where it was doing business.
“It is not now nor ever has been the case that enquiries for SCL ‘can be directed through any British High Commission or Embassy,” the spokesperson said. “Our understanding is that, at the time of the signing of the contract for project work in 2008/9, the FCO was not aware of SCL’s reported activity during the 2006 Latvian election or 2007 Nigerian election.”
Other countries where SCL Elections tried to manipulate elections in the last decade included Latvia in Eastern Europe.
The BBC also reported that the acting CEO of Cambridge Analytica, Alexander Tayler, said “Cambridge Analytica was formed in 2013, out of a much older company called SCL Elections.
“We take the disturbing recent allegations of unethical practices in our non-US political business very seriously. The board has launched a full and independent investigation into SCL Elections’ past practices, and its findings will be made available in due course.”