Further delays extend already protracted process for lawyers to gain access to Mubarak Bala

Court order mandating legal counsel be granted access to Mubarak Bala still to be implemented more than a week after it was issued

  • post Type / Action Alert
  • Date / 3 July 2020

On 24 June 2020, a court issued an order mandating that Mubarak Bala’s legal team be granted access to meet with their client. However, as of 3 July, the police commissioner has yet to be served with the court order that would set the process in motion.

Leo Igwe, Chairman of Humanist Association of Nigeria and Founder of AfAW (Advocacy for Alleged Witches)

Leo Igwe, Chairman of Humanist Association of Nigeria and Founder of AfAW (Advocacy for Alleged Witches), a project funded by Humanists International, said:

“The delay in the enrollment of a court order granting Mubarak Bala access to a lawyer is totally unwarranted. The prayer that the court had granted was a constitutional right that should be treated with utmost priority without any further delays or excuse. Nigerian officials should demonstrate a commitment to impartiality and fairness in processing the case of Mr Bala.”

Nigerian human rights activist and President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, Mubarak Bala has been held in detention without access to his legal team since his arrest on 28 April 2020. Although Bala has been denied access to his legal team, it is believed that Bala was formally detained under the Cybercrimes Act on 6 May. His formal arraignment has yet to take place.

On 8 May 2020, Bala’s legal counsel filed a fundamental rights petition with the Abuja High Court, seeking to secure Bala’s release on the basis that his detention violates his rights to liberty, fair trial, freedom of thought and expression, and freedom of movement as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution and international human rights law. 

A first hearing was initially scheduled to take place on 25 May, however, had to be postponed due to the date coinciding with a public holiday. The hearing was further postponed on 18 June, and is expected to take place on 9 July 2020.

Humanists International fears that Mr Bala is being targeted solely for having exercised his rights to freedom of belief and freedom of expression, which are protected under the Nigerian Constitution, and under international and regional instruments to which Nigeria is a signatory. 

Humanists International continues to pursue confidential lines of high-level diplomacy with several governments around the world. This information is highly sensitive and therefore cannot be shared publicly.

Take Action!

Help us to fight for his release:

  • Spread the word: publicise Bala’s case in your national and local media, as well as on social media using the hashtag #FreeMubarakBala
  • Lobby your national representatives: Raise your concerns and share our briefing document with your local representatives
  • Raise your concerns with the Nigerian authorities: using our action paper as your guide

#FreeMubarakBala #ProtectHumanistsAtRisk

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