Editorial: Our data is not safe in Patami’s care, he needs to go

Last week was eventful for Nigeria. It all began with a shocking report by Daily Independent that President Muhammadu Buhari’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Patami had been included in the United State’s terror watchlist. The report generated mixed reactions but most importantly was the attempt by the traditional media houses to downplay it.

According to the report, “Before he was appointed a minister, Ibrahim was a known Islamic preacher and held what was termed ‘dangerous views’ against the American govern­ment, with allegiance to Al-Qaeda”. As expected, Patami threatened to sue Daily Independent, flashing a demand on the paper by his lawyers for retraction and apologies or be compelled to pay for damages. Daily independent complied, and as he was glorying in his newfound fame, issuing an ultimatum to Nigerians to register for National Identification Number or be cut off, a new can of worms opened.

Andrea Brigaglia had documented how Pantami and other clerics became cheerleaders for ethnoreligious crises. Recorded videos of the Sheikh hailing renowned terrorist groups like the Taliban and Al-Queda surfaced, where Patami was boldly referring to his fellow countrymen as infidels and praying for Mr Zero Zero(alleged to be Buhari) to take over power to stop ‘the infidels’. His other preachings which had reportedly sparked violence in Abubakar Tafala Balewa University also surfaced and corroborated the initial story by Daily Independent. In one of the videos where Patami was debating with Yusuf Mohammed, the late founder of Boko Haram, the duo only disagreed on method and timeline but the ideology is the same.

Patami is an indictment on Buhari. It is also likely that Buhari knew what we are just getting to know and refused to act. If he doesn’t and was just getting to know like most of us, then he would have sacked Patami since these revelations began.

According to HumAngle, the slogan of Patami and other ‘quietist Salafists was “A shiga a gyara” —a Hausa term that means to participate in governance and correct it, until you get enough power to dismantle the entire system and replace it with Sharia law. According to them, Jihad isn’t entirely ruled out, but it has its time. How is our personal data safe in Patami’s care?

In a lecture titled “Su Waye Taliban” (Who are the Taliban) in 2006, Pantami stated that he was prompted to present the lecture due to the love he and other Ahlussunnah (read: Salafis) have for fighters in Afghanistan and their efforts to respond to the “western unbelievers” who are spoiling the image of the jihadists.

That same year (2006), Pantami offered his condolences for the death of Abu Mus’ab Alzarqawy, the ‘first Emir of Al-Qaeda in Iraq,’ in which he described him as a martyr who took responsibility from Mollah Omar to oversee a jihadi camp in Herat.

“To this date, in the Community of the Prophet, we have some incredible people, people of faith who follow the creed of the Sunnah and thanks to whom the enemies of God are unable to find rest in this world.”

“They have killed Shaykh, the martyr Abdallah Yusuf Azzam – may God have mercy on him – but did the struggle end? […] Whenever one goes, another comes, and he is even more remarkable than the first.”

“The mother of Abu Mus’ab – may God have mercy on her – died in 2002 of the Christian era. Before she passed on, she prayed to God that her son might die as a martyr to prevent the enemies of God to lay their hands on him.”

“Did God answer her prayer or not? May God, then take our lives too, as well as the lives of our teachers, as martyrs on the path of the creed of the Sunnah.

In a loose translation of the ‘Who are the Taliban’ video, Patami made these remarks;

“With respect to enquiries/clarification on this topic, I decided to respond timely so as to underscore the importance of the Topic to the people. A very important thought that came into my mind, is that what our brethren-Al Sunnah (Salafists) want to know is how the Talibans who lived in Afghanistan were subjected to trials from Allah on this earth. Subjected to a test of faith and love.

“Furthermore, there were a group of people, Infidels, from the Western World, who don’t have any other target in this life except to destroy the good image of the Talibans in the eyes of their Muslim brethren, to destroy the Taliban image even in the eyes of the Infidels themselves, by means of accusing the Taliban of deeds which were not committed by them.

“The Land of Afghanistan was in a terrible state until the Monarchy was abolished, that is Kingship System, exactly around 1978 Christian Era. If you did arithmetic, you’d notice that about 30 years had gone by. Afghanistan found itself in a state of anarchy to the extent that the infidels began to plan on coming in and dominating Afghanistan. This is because when you are religiously pious, patient, worshipping God, reading the Quran, our adversaries- the Infidels, especially the United States of America are always distressed. As such, they are always lurking around and looking for an opportunity ar launching an attack against you. Right now, they are claiming to be super powers, whereas the USSR was formerly the World Power.

“Under the pretext of promoting peace, The USA invaded Afghanistan. Their entry into the country was characterised by their support for one group against the other. Right now, if Allah were to bring a test of faith on Nigeria, who do you think would be the first to invade Nigeria? AMERICA! If they invaded, who do you think they would support? Muslims or Infidels? INFIDELS! This is exactly how they seek to operate. This is the reason why in the rules of Islam, it is wrong to take premature action without making Preparation (Istidhad). This is the path of God’s Religion.”

“They have a plan of invading and dominating Afghanistan, so as to impose whatever they like on its Government. All along, this is their strategy all over the World, where any Nation of Infidels that is powerful can impose themselves on any other country. This is why we have been praying to Almighty Allah to urgently bring Mr Zero-Zero to Power in Nigeria. May Almighty Allah give us a true Muslim who fears Almighty Allah. I’m sure that you all know who I’m referring to, I don’t need to elaborate.“

“And therefore, we are praying to God, that based on our understanding, we pray for a day when the images on the notes in our pockets will be removed. No Muslim Cleric has ever spoken against these images as forbidden. May we be self-sufficient enough not to need this currency. It is against the Religion to put even the images of the Companions of the Prophet on the currency. May Allah help us to see that day when the Gregorian date, the Calendar of the Infidels that is on the notes is removed. And that day is coming when it will certainly be removed.”

How did we get here? How did a character like Patami make it to a sensitive position where he is in charge of our data going by his antecedents? That the Department of State Security, DSS, passed off Patami as clean to occupy a position in the Federal Executive Council while arresting anyone who dared disagree with Buhari shows the low the country has sunk in intelligence gathering. However, incompetency and nepotism have become the hallmark of Buhari’s presidency. But with the defence that Patami has gotten so far from journalists and opinion shapers from his side of the divide; the attitude of the traditional media towards the development, it is obvious that he is not acting alone.

As calls for his resignation heightened, Mr Patami claimed some of the statements were made in his teen years as he started preaching as early as 13, but was Mr Patami 13 in 2006 and 2008 when these videos were recorded? No. He was a 33-year-old then and knew what he was doing.

He also claims that numerous happenings and developments have changed many of his religious and political views as he advanced in age and acquired more information. But terrorists do not change, they simply adapt to the prevailing situation to further their agenda.

Pantami added that as a human being he was liable to make mistakes and has always been ready to change stances based on new viewpoints supported by evidence.

“I have changed my stance on some issues based on additional facts even after expressing Fatwa, a nonbinding religious opinion in response to a question posed to me,” he said.

Conflating SIM card data with NIN forceful registration and the downplaying of the use of BVN all fit into the terrorist and Islamization agenda, so his claims of personal development and change are still suspect.

His admission of guilt makes his continued stay in office untenable. He needs to resign or be sacked and handed over to the DSS for prosecution.