Leo Igwe is the founder of the Humanist Association of Nigeria. He dedicated his whole life to humanism, fighting for reason against superstition and witchcraft in his own country and all over Africa.
Back in 2011, Leo was imprisoned and beaten by police while rescuing two children accused of witchcraft. Luckily Leo was released after spending a day and night in jail, following interventions by Humanists International.
In 2019, Leo founded Advocacy for Alleged Witches (AfAW) with the goal of “using compassion, reason, and science to save lives of those affected by superstition” – and Humanists International is supporting the project with a grant. For his brave human rights activism Leo was awarded with the Distinguished Services to Humanism Award in 2014.
In the video message below, Leo reflects on what it means to live as a humanist in Nigeria, taking as an example the ongoing case of Mubarak Bala, in prison since 28 April.
Humanists International is following the case of Mubarak Bala closely since 28 April, when Mubarak was arrested and imprisoned. One day after the arrest, we launched a fundraising campaign and we managed to secure enough money to hire a legal team to defend Mubarak Bala in court.
However, as of today we don’t know his exact location. Mubarak hasn’t been formally charged and has had no access to his lawyers. On 9 July, Bala’s lawyers will go before the Abuja High Court to make their case for his fundamental rights. But ten weeks on, the question is the same: where is Mubarak? We urge the Nigerian authorities to grant Mubarak access to his lawyer, and to respect his right to a fair trial.
Nigeria is one of the eight countries analysed in great detail in our Humanists At Risk Action Report 2020. If you want to support our work in defence of humanists at risk around the world, please consider making a donation to our campaign.