Kenya, Nigeria to probe Cambridge Analytica role in elections


Voters queuing in Ilngarooj, Kajiado County, Maasailand, on March 4, 2013. Photo/FILE
Voters queuing in Ilngarooj, Kajiado County, Maasailand, on March 4, 2013. Photo/FILE

In Summary

  • Leaders in both nations have vowed to drag the data-crunching firm into court if evidence supports their claims.
  • Their tough talk adds to mounting global fury over the British company, which also was hired by Donald Trump's campaign and tried to influence American voters in 2016 using information gleaned from 50 million Facebook users.
  • Cambridge Analytica and its affiliate, SCL Elections, did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment about the African leaders' claims.

Officials in Nigeria and Kenya are looking into whether marketing research firm Cambridge Analytica tried to interfere with elections in their countries.

Leaders in both nations vowed to drag the data-crunching firm into court if evidence supports claims of organising rallies and orchestrating campaigns to sway public opinion away from certain candidates.

Their tough talk adds to mounting global fury over the British company, which also was hired by Donald Trump’s campaign and tried to influence American voters in 2016 using information gleaned from 50 million Facebook users.

Cambridge Analytica and its affiliate, SCL Elections, did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment about the African leaders’ claims.

The firm suspended its chief executive amid the US election allegations but denies any wrongdoing. 

In Nigeria, criminal prosecutions could follow if Cambridge Analytica is found to have interfered with elections, said Garba Shehu, a spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari.

A government committee is probing claims that SCL Elections organised anti-election rallies to dissuade opposition supporters from voting in 2007, Shehu said, according to Reuters.

The panel also will examine claims that Buhari’s personal data was hacked in 2015, when he was an opposition candidate for president, he said.

“We don’t want to leave it open that Cambridge Analytica could have interfered with these elections,” Shehu told CNN.

“The committee will scrutinize reports and allegations made against Cambridge Analytica. The government may prosecute, if the reports are found to be true. We just want to take lessons from what happened.”

Kenya’s Opposition leaders want answers

In Kenyan politics, the managing director of Cambridge Analytica and SCL Elections was filmed telling undercover reporters for the UK’s Channel 4 news that his company managed two of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s campaigns.

“The Kenyatta campaign, which we ran in 2013 and 2017 for Kenyatta, we have rebranded the entire party twice, written the manifesto, done research, analysis, messaging,” Mark Turnbull said.

“I think we wrote all the speeches, and we staged the whole thing — so just about every element of this candidate.”

 

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