Nigeria: Kano State High Court brings formal charges against Mubarak Bala

  • post Type / Action Alert - Live
  • Date / 4 August 2021

On 3 August 2021, formal charges were brought against President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, Mubarak Bala, before the Kano State High Court. Bala, who was not present in court, was formally charged with causing a public disturbance under Sections 210 and 114 of the Penal Code of Kano State, respectively.

Bala’s legal team contest the court’s competence to hear a case against Bala given that the charges related to alleged crimes committed outside Kano State’s borders. According to the charge sheet filed before the Kano State High Court, seen by Humanists International, Bala faces 10 counts of causing a public disturbance in connection to Facebook posts he is alleged to have made over the course of April 2020, which are deemed to have caused a public disturbance due to their “blasphemous” content.

Bala, who was arrested on 28 April 2020 in connection with a Facebook post, had been detained without charge for more than a year in contravention of a Federal High Court ruling. For more than five months Bala was denied access to his legal representatives. At the time the charges were filed, Bala’s legal team were petitioning the federal High Court in Abuja seeking the transferral of Bala’s case to a neutral territory where he might have the possibility of a fair trial.

While Humanists International welcomes the news that Bala has been charged under customary law, the organization remains concerned that Bala has little hope of a fair trial in Kano State, where blasphemy remains a highly sensitive issue. Kano State is one of 12 states in Northern Nigeria to operate parallel legal systems – customary law, applicable across the Federation of Nigeria as well as Sharia law, which may be enforced on Muslims. Under customary law, “blasphemy” is classed as a misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison; under Sharia law, the penalty is death. As a humanist, Sharia law may not be imposed upon Bala.

Andrew Copson, President of Humanists International

Andrew Copson, President of Humanists International, commented:

“It has taken the Kano State authorities more than a year to bring formal charges against Mubarak Bala. Their failure to do so until now highlights still further these charges’ lack of basis.

We reiterate our consistent calls. If Mubarak is to be tried, it must be in a place with the jurisdiction to do so and where he can expect a fair trial.”

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 him to 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.

Help us to defend Mubarak

After 462 days in arbitrary detention, the President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, Mubarak Bala, was finally charged by the Kano State High Court on 3 August 2021. Help us to keep defending Mubarak until he is free and safe.

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