Group faults Mubarak Bala’s conviction

Group faults Mubarak Bala’s conviction

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The Humanist Association of Nigeria has reacted to the 24-year jail of a self-proclaimed atheist, Mubarak Bala, describing the judgment as a sham court process.

Mubarak Bala, who was the president of HAN, was arrested in Kaduna in 2020 over his Facebook post that was considered blasphemous against Prophet Muhammed and Allah.

The Punch reported that a Kano court sentenced Bala to 24 years for blasphemy on Tuesday.

Reacting to the sentence, a trustee of HAN, Dr. Leo Igwe, in a conversation with our correspondent, said that the association was saddened and disappointed by the judgment, adding that although Bala pleaded guilty to the charges, the ‘outrageous’ judgment on him was not justified.

“The association is saddened and disappointed by the judgment, following a sham court process. Although Mubarak Bala pleaded guilty to the charges, that does not justify the outrageous sentence that the court handed down.

“To make a comment that is critical of any prophet or religion is not a crime.

“For almost two years, Bala has been detained without trial and has been subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment. He was held incommunicado for months and denied family visits and legal representation.

He said that what transpired in court was a culmination of years of psychological torture, emotional and physical abuse on Bala.

Igwe also noted that an appeal was being considered to ensure that Bala would get justice at last.

“The option of an appeal is currently being explored. His case is one of justice denied and we are doing whatever that we can to ensure that he would get justice at last,” he said.

Igwe added, “Nigeria is a pluralistic society of people from different cultures, who profess different religions outlooks and beliefs. So we are bound to tolerate one another because we are likely to say things others may deem insulting. We are likely to encounter people who say things that we may find annoying or offensive. So we are bound to tolerate one another.

“Incidentally, many people think that tolerance entails condoning or accommodating other beliefs that we accept or find pleasant. That is not the case. Tolerance implies accommodating and condoning beliefs, views, actions, and behaviors that we regard as annoying or offensive.

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