Human rights activist and President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria has now been held without charge for 300 days in a clear violation of his fundamental rights, enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and international instruments to which it is a state party.
In protest at his ongoing arbitrary detention, humanist activists across the globe will be observing a symbolic 300 seconds silence; one second for each day Bala has been detained – here is how to join the protest: freemubarakbala.org/22-february-2020
Andrew Copson, President of Humanists International, stated:
“The courts have spoken; Mubarak Bala’s arbitrary detention must end. We urge the High Court of Abuja to rule in favour of Bala’s lawyers’ petition challenging the jurisdiction of Kano State courts. Only by transferring Bala to a competent court in Abuja can justice expect to be served and his safety ensured.”
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.
Following months of advocacy, Bala was finally granted access to his legal team in October, more than five months after his initial arrest. Bala has yet to be brought before a court and charged with a crime.
On 21 December 2020, a judge at the High Court in Abuja, Nigeria, ruled that Bala should have been immediately released on bail after finding that his continuous incarceration without charge violated his fundamental rights guaranteed under the Nigerian Constitution.
Bala’s legal team filed a second Fundamental Rights case petitioning the Abuja High Court to order that the potential arraignment (if any) takes place in Abuja, where Bala stands the possibility of a fair trial. The petition challenged the jurisdiction of Kano State to prosecute Bala for expressions made outside its borders and raised legitimate concerns for their clients’ well being should he be arraigned and released on bail in Kano state. A hearing of the petition is scheduled to take place on 1 March 2021.
Humanists International believes that Bala is being targeted for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and religion or belief, and calls for him to be charged with a crime or released; if charged, he should be transferred to a neutral territory in order to ensure his right to a fair trial.
International efforts to secure his release and safety remain ongoing. To take part in the campaign: