One entire year without justice, without communication, without rights ensured, without seeing family or friends. One year imprisoned without charges.
Today marks the anniversary of the arrest and subsequent illegal detention of Mubarak Bala, President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria.
As many of our readers and supporters are aware, Bala was arrested in his home in Kaduna State last April and subsequently transferred to Kano State, where a complaint had been filed based on posts Bala is alleged to have made on Facebook, which the petitioners judged to be insulting to the prophet Muhammad.
His legal team has run into nearly every possible obstacle arguing for his release. Bala’s case has been subject to multiple and repeated irregularities, including:
- Bala has now been held without charge for 365 days in contravention of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
- Court hearings have been subjected to repeated adjournments;
- The Kano State Police Commissioner repeatedly refused to comply with an order issued by a Magistrate requiring the police to grant Bala access to his legal team;
- The Kano State authorities have failed to comply with a ruling of the Abuja High Court that determined that Bala should be released on bail.
“The ongoing detention of Mubarak Bala, for nothing more than exercising his freedom of belief and expression, is unacceptable and must come to an end,” AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt commented. “The AHA joins the international humanist community to call for Bala’s immediate release.”
Unfortunately, in the last year, the situation in Nigeria has continued to deteriorate, and the rights of humanists and minority faith groups have been consistently undermined. The violations of religious freedom have been so egregious, ongoing, and systematic that the State Department added Nigeria to its list of Countries of Particular Concern in December for the first time.
Eighty-nine humanist organizations, freedom of expression organizations, and concerned individuals from around the world have come together on this somber day to call on the Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, to release Bala immediately.
The letter states,
“The undersigned organizations fear that Mr. Bala is being targeted solely for his exercise of his rights of freedom of belief and freedom of expression, as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution and international and regional instruments to which Nigeria is a signatory. We urge you to uphold your duty to respect fundamental freedoms and to release Mubarak Bala immediately without conditions.”
Commenting on the case, Andrew Copson, President of Humanists International shared, “The failure of the Kano State authorities to fulfill their obligations to protect the rights of Bala while in their custody clearly demonstrates that our colleague has little hope of a fair trial if he were to be charged in a Kano State court.”