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Bala Mubarak

I am writing to urge the Kano state government to release Mubarak Bala, president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria. Bala has been held incommunicado in Kano since April 29. Kano state officials continue to misinform the world about Mr. Bala’s situation. They claim that he is in protective custody. That means he has been detained for safety reasons. Kano authorities have suggested that the coronavirus pandemic was responsible for their inability to prosecute Bala. Unfortunately, these are mischievous lies and excuses. Kano officials are using various pretexts to justify illegal detention and denial of Bala’s human and constitutional rights. Simply put, the Kano state government wants to, silently, eliminate Mr. Bala.

Look, Kano state officials understand their failure and inability to rein in Muslim bloodletters and blasphemy killers. They know that Kano is notorious for judicial and extrajudicial murder of suspected blasphemers and desecrators of the Quran. It is public knowledge that there is institutionalized jihadism in Kano. So how could Kano officials think that they could keep Mubarak Bala in protective custody in such a religiously volatile state?

Meanwhile, there have been petitions and requests to have Bala’s case transferred to Abuja or some other neutral ground. But the police and government in Kano have bluntly refused? A lawyer has been hired since April 29 to represent Bala, but the police have connived with the government officials in Kano to deny Bala access to a lawyer. They have resolved to prosecute Bala on their kangaroo court terms. Kano state officials are using the police and the court to legitimize their mischief. For instance, the court has ruled granting Mubarak access to a lawyer, but the police and state officers have refused to obey their court order.

Kano state government should stop this treacherous game that they are playing with the life of Mubarak Bala. Bala is a citizen of Nigeria and a human being. He has rights, and Kano state owes him some obligations under the law. Incidentally, Kano state is failing in its obligation to Mubarak Bala because the government wants to appease the Islamist base. This jihadist policy is unfair and does not speak well of the government. Now imagine this, a sharia court in Kano tried and sentenced two Muslims, Yahaya Sharif Aminu, and Umar Farouq, who were also accused of blasphemy. So the excuse that the court has not been sitting due to COVID19 does not hold water. Courts in Kano state have been hearing cases. If the courts were not sitting, how was a sharia court able to hear, and rule on the cases of Sharif-Aminu and Farouq? What is stopping the government of Kano state from prosecuting Bala as they did in the case of Sharif-Aminu and Farouq? Is it because, unlike that of the Muslims tried in a sharia court, the government’s case against Mubarak Bala, who is an atheist, would be difficult to prove in a secular court? Then, why can’t the government through its ministry of justice release him? I mean, what kind of justice system is in place in Kano?

Kano state officials continue to misinform the world about Mubarak Bala’s case. They claim that his case has been charged to court. But they have little or no information on the following: Which court was he charged? When was he formally arraigned? What was the date of the previous hearing? What is the date of the next hearing? Who is the lawyer representing him? A court has ruled granting Mubarak Bala access to a lawyer. What happened to that court order? Why didn’t the police obey the order? Why did the police move him to prison? Who ordered his transfer to a prison? Why have police/prison/state official not allowed Bala to see his wife and child? The police are saying that Mubarak Bala is no longer in their custody. Now, in whose custody is Bala?

The Kano state government should come out clean on the case of Mubarak Bala and end this drama of deception and misinformation. Is the government interested in ensuring justice or perpetrating injustice? Is it trying Mubarak Bala or holding him hostage? Did the government arrest Bala or kidnap him? I mean, after 110 days in detention, the Kano state government should rethink the official persecution of Mubarak Bala. It should end this game of mischief that has made the police and court system in Kano, a global embarrassment, and a laughing stock.

*** Written by By Leo Igwe.