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NPP appoints BNI-busted elections manipulator to man its it directorate; NDC apprehensive

30 August 2022

The recently elected leadership of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has appointed a known elections manipulator with a criminal record as its National Deputy Director of IT sparking speculation as to what the governing party intends to do at the 2024 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

Stephen Ato Kwamena Forson, 37, was arrested on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) for engaging in election fraud during an election at the University of Ghana (UG). He was granted bail later by the BNI, but was to assist with criminal investigations.

His appointment, comes as the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is still struggling to come to terms with whether or not Joseph Anokye, the head of the National Communications Authority (NCA) manipulated the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections for the NPP candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo.

The opposition party’s apprehension, is heightened by the antagonistic posturing of officials of the Electoral Commission (EC) particularly its Chairperson, Jean Adukwei Mensah and her deputy, Bossman Asare. There is fear, they would allow the NPP’s IT into the EC system to compromise the results.
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Several media publications, including a Daily Graphic story cited by The Herald, said that Stephen Forson, a software developer and manager of electronic voting, was picked up by BNI operatives for allegedly manipulating the computer software that was used to conduct the elections.

The reports stated that, Stephen Forson, was arrested after he had conducted Students Representative Council (SRC) elections at UG, but was subsequently released.

Operatives of the BNI, had retrieved six laptop computers which were used as servers during the SRC election which was held on April 9, 2015.

A careful scrutiny during initial investigations revealed that the results of the elections did not show the true outcome of votes entered into the system.

The BNI, proceeded to invite the developer of the software, Mr Stephen Forson, who is the Managing Director (MD) of IPRO Solutions Limited for questioning on April 14, 2015.

A Systems Analyst Programmer, Yayra Koku Deku, who said he was hired to look into the 2015 UG election fraud, has identified Stephen Forson, as the one who took part in investigating the electoral fraud incident on the University of Ghana campus.

In a post shared on Facebook dated Saturday, August 27, 2022, Mr Deku, revealed that the now NPP deputy director of IT indeed, manipulated the system in favour of one of the contestants.

Yayra Koku, also alleged that the person the election was rigged for is an NPP member called Fobi, who now works at the National Lotteries Authority (NLA).

“I was hired as a systems analyst and a cybersecurity consultant to help investigate an alleged rigging of Legon SRC elections using an electronic voting system developed by Stephen Forson.

“After 2hrs of interrogations and accessing the system, it was detected that a line of code was put in the system to benefit one guy called Fobi, a member of the NPP and now working at Sammy Awukus’s office. Though Stephen Forson denied ever putting that code there, it was obvious the last update on the file had his laptop credentials.

“I remember asking him to “uncomment” a line in his code and vote for the other contestant. To our surprise, after voting, Fobi rather got the vote,” parts of the post read, adding that the 2015 election fraud has not been resolved to date.

The BNI at the time, revealed that Mr Forson, had disclosed that election was the fourth time he was running elections for the University of Ghana, and no one had complained.

It also came to light that the software platform has been used for several elections in other tertiary institutions in the past few years.

Mr Forson was asked to demonstrate the software design and voting process which turned out fine when he used his own personal laptop. But the results came out manipulated when he used one of the laptops that was used as a server during the elections.

www.a1radioonline.com had quoted XFM in an April 19, 2015 report saying a high-ranking official of the BNI had revealed that events concerning the manipulation of the electronic voting system of the University of Ghana (UG) elections at the time could have dire consequences on national security.

At the time, there were calls for the introduction of electronic voting across the country during national elections and the BNI source raised fears that if such a flawed software system which was used for the UG elections is deployed during a nationwide election, it would pose a threat to security and peace across the nation.

“We want to get to the bottom of this matter. Imagine this same thing is replicated into the national elections, can you imagine the sort of confusion it will create. Peaceful and fair elections is what we want in this country”.

Following a report about allegations of election fraud, the Bureau found it necessary to launch a full scale investigation to unravel the facts of the matter in order to prevent any unrest at the university.

“We all know student politics, if there is chaos in University of Ghana today, it’s a security matter so we need to get involved because it’s a potential threat to national security”.

“When investigators gave him one of the retrieved computers used during the voting exercise to demonstrate by adding five names to the voter register and voting for the two SRC presidential candidates, the results came out manipulated”.

“Although the given new “voters” voted three for candidate A and two for candidate B, the results as declared by the electronic system gave candidate A one vote and candidate B four votes.”

“We decided to test again and realized that any voter ID number ending with an even number goes to a particular candidate which presupposes that 50% of the votes automatically will have to go to a particular candidate and the remaining 50% ending with odd numbers will have to be shared based on who gets the votes.”

With a team of experts, a code was discovered in the software which was responsible for altering the results after a thorough analysis. Mr. Stephen Forson however denied responsibility for the additional codes which he says were not part of the original software.

“He claims he did not know that the software could do this, but when we brought in experts and they went deep into the software in his presence, they took him through it and he was able to see a code and he confessed that there is a second code within his software that can manipulate results but he didn’t put in the code and doesn’t know where it’s coming from”.

The BNI has given Mr. Forson an opportunity to invite software experts from his side in order to unravel the mystery of the secondary code.
The BNI investigations are not complete and “we are not saying it’s Forson who inserted the second code, but we only know that he is the developer of the software”.

Mr Stephen Forson was granted bail on Thursday, April 16, to assist the security operatives to further investigate the matter and to expose the facts regarding the manipulative code in the software.

An April 16, 20215 Graphic.com.gh publication on the matter, also quoted a highly-placed BNI source telling the Daily Graphic newspaper in Accra that the arrest was made “following allegations of manipulations of the electronic voting system of the University of Ghana, Legon [used in] SRC elections held on April 9, 2015.

The bureau requested evidence and retrieved six of the computers used as servers during the election.

“A careful scrutiny of the computers during preliminary investigations revealed that the electronic voting system was manipulated to favour a particular candidate,” the source said.

According to the investigators, the suspect initially denied the computers could be manipulated but “when investigators gave him one of the retrieved computers used during the voting exercise to demonstrate by adding five names to the voter register and voting for the two SRC presidential candidates, the results came out manipulated.

“Although the given new “voters” voted three for candidate A and two for candidate B, the results as declared by the electronic system gave candidate A one vote and candidate B four votes.”

“Preliminary investigations revealed that the electronic voting system was tampered with to credit all votes with voter identities ending with even numbers to a particular candidate, while voter identities ending with odd numbers were equally shared based on the ballots cast.

“The source denied media reports that Forson was arrested in the night and tortured by people from the Flagstaff House and later handed over to the BNI.

“He was picked up from his home and sent directly to the offices of the BNI where he is currently being kept,” the source said.

It said a thorough scrutiny of the retrieved computers was going on to unravel how the system was manipulated.
Asked why the BNI had had to investigate the issue, the source said, “The BNI is there for everyone, including students. If anyone feels cheated or defrauded in any manner and reports to the BNI, our duty is to investigate.

“In any case, this is a serious matter because it can assume national dimension one day, and it is, therefore, important the BNI looks into the method of operation and how to curb a future occurrence.

“We cannot sit aloof for such an incident to have a spillover effect. That would be dangerous for our democracy,“ the source said.

“We do not know who the contestants are. All we are interested in is whether or not fraud was perpetuated during the voting process,” it added.

The source said the docket on the case would be prepared after investigations and would be forwarded to the Attorney-General’s office for advice.

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