Important update: 2 October 2020
Since the publication of this article, Humanists International has received confirmation from multiple reliable sources that the President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, Mubarak Bala is alive.
Humanists International welcomes this news, while noting that the dissemination of such malicious rumours would not have been possible had the Kano State authorities complied with its legal obligations to grant Bala unimpeded access to his legal counsel. The organization reiterates its calls on the Nigerian authorities to grant Bala access to his legal counsel and transfer his case to an impartial territory where he may have the prospect of a fair trial, should he be charged with a crime.
On 1 October, news began to circulate that Bala had been killed in prison. The initial source of the news, alleged to be an employee of a Kano state hospital morgue, indicated that injuries to his body suggested that he had been killed.
Humanists International has repeatedly raised concerns for Bala’s well-being while in detention. While his precise whereabouts in Kano state remain unconfirmed, any individual accused of ‘blasphemy’ in the state risks violent reprisals. Prior to his arrest, a member of the Kano State police stated on social media that he would kill Bala should he set foot in Kano. Humanists International, together with a number of local and international contacts, is seeking to verify the claims.
Responding to the unverified reports, Andrew Copson, President of Humanists International stated:
“It is now more important than ever that the Kano State authorities grant Bala’s legal team access to the facility in which he is being held. In doing so, not only they will be complying with their obligations under national and international law, but they will also enable the swift establishment of the facts. Any failure by the authorities to do so at this stage would lend credence to the rumours as, if he is alive, they have nothing to lose.”
Mubarak Bala, president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria has been held in detention without access to a lawyer since his arrest on 28 April 2020 in connection with a Facebook post. Humanists International believes that Mubarak Bala is being targeted for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and religion or belief, and calls for the case against him to be dropped, for Bala to be released immediately and unconditionally, and for the Nigerian authorities to ensure his safety upon his release.
To learn more about Bala’s case, see: