Police refuse to comply with court order granting Mubarak Bala access to his legal team
In what appear to be further attempts to impede Bala’s access to justice, the Police Commissioner of Kano state has refused to comply with the Magistrate’s court order issued on and served to the police on 16 July 2020. According to Bala’s legal team, the Commissioner’s refusal to comply with the order is based on the fact that the wording of the order itself does not specifically instruct the police to comply.
Andrew Copson, President of Humanists International said:
“The excuse from the police commissioner is ridiculous and his behaviour is lawless. The wording of the court’s order is clear. Mubarak Bala must be given access to his legal team. If there is to be any justice at all, his arbitrary detention of 87 days without charge must also end.”
Human rights activist and President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria has now been held without charge or access to legal counsel for 87 days, in clear violation of his fundamental human rights to liberty, fair trial, freedom of thought and expression, and freedom of movement enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution, and regional and international human rights instruments to which Nigeria is a State Party.
Arrested at his home in Kaduna state on 28 April 2020, Bala was 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.
Bala’s case has been subjected to repeated delays. Most recently in the process surrounding the issuance of the magistrate’s court order. Courts are now in recess until October, meaning that Bala and his legal team could potentially face further delays in their quest for justice.
Bala’s case fits within a wider pattern of persecution of those who hold non-theistic beliefs and strive to uphold humanist values, especially the case in Nigeria’s northern states. In June 2020, Humanists International published its Humanists at Risk: Action Report 2020 which highlighted the lived experience of individuals on the ground in Nigeria, and elsewhere across the globe. Bala himself has faced repeated threats and harassment as a result of his beliefs.
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