Nigeria: Successive delays in proceedings against Mubarak Bala make a mockery of the Nigerian justice system


  • post Type / Action Alert - Live
  • Date / 16 December 2021

Humanists International is deeply disappointed to learn of the postponement of yet another hearing in the case of Mubarak Bala, President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria.

Bala, an active member of the humanist community, was arrested from his home in Kaduna State on 28 April 2020. Bala was subsequently transferred into the custody of officials in neighboring Kano State, where he is due to stand trial on 10 counts of causing a public disturbance in connection with Facebook posts he is alleged to have made that some deem to be “blasphemous”.

James Ibor, lead lawyer for Mubarak Bala

Acting in his defence, lawyer James Ibor stated:

“If he is convicted, the maximum sentence is two years. Mubarak Bala has almost served a sentence no court has imposed on him.”

Since his arrest, Bala has repeatedly faced the denial of his fundamental rights at the hands of the State and its agents:

  • Being denied access to medical care;
  • Being held without charge for 462 days;
  • Being denied access to his legal team for more than five months;
  • Court hearings have been subjected to repeated adjournments;
  • The Kano State Police Commissioner repeatedly refused to comply with an order issued by a Magistrate requiring the police to grant Bala access to his legal team;
  • The Kano State authorities have failed to comply with a ruling of the Abuja High Court that determined that Bala should be released on bail.

Only at midday on the day of the hearing did Bala’s lawyers receive word of its cancellation. The justification provided: that the judge had eye surgery the day prior. Sunday 19 December will mark the 600th day that Bala has spent in detention arbitrarily.

Andrew Copson, President of Humanists International

On hearing the news, Andrew Copson, President of Humanists International said:

“Successive delays in proceedings against Mubarak Bala make a mockery of the Nigerian justice system. We will not be deterred by the Kano authorities’ attempts to wear us down. We will keep fighting for Mubarak’s rights to a fair trial, and for the justice system of Nigeria.”

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 this end, we urge the state and federal authorities to intervene on behalf of Bala to protect his human rights, including by granting him access to medical treatment.

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