We the members of Calabar Humanists Association unanimously reject the judgment of the Kano State High Court as it amounts to a miscarriage of

justice. We demand that the President of Humanists Association of Nigeria be set free and reunited with his family.

Mr Mubarak Bala has languished under illegal detention for two years despite court orders for his immediate release. During this period, the Islamic community, which apparently controls the government and social structures of the State have made significant threat to compel him to admit guilt when it is apparent to all that he is innocent. Mr Bala is a chemical engineer, husband and father, and whose travails

began in 2014 when he announced on his Facebook page that he is no longer a Muslim, but an atheist.

He should not have done that? Apparently, this public declaration saved him from being tried in a Sharia court. It also saved him from living a life of pretence as every Muslim is expected to observe the compulsory daily

rituals that define Islam. He was no longer obliged to pray five times daily and to fast during Ramadan.

But the religious community wouldn’t have it. His immediate family were the first to strike. He was accused of being insane and forcefully admitted into a mental institution for 18 days. During this period he was given medications

to ‘correct’ his alleged mental defects until the atheist community in Nigeria was able to secure his release. From then onwards, he became a marked

man. He received death threats regularly from members of his former faith. Before his deconversion, he was a pious Muslim who attended the Saudi funded Islamic Foundation, Aliyu Bin Abi Talib primary school. He was

trained in the Wahhabi Islamic thought, with a jihad ideology and later attended an all-Muslim private science secondary school, Hassan I. Gwarzo, in Kano State, where Islamic (Qur’anic) study is given a very high priority.

Mr Bala was arrested again in April 2020 for making posts on Facebook against Islam. Despite court orders to release him on bail, the police authorities ensured that he was kept behind bars for two years in Kano. On April 5th 2022, against the advice of his lawyers, he pleaded guilty to the charges of making inciting statements on his Facebook page and the

judge immediately passed a 24 years sentence.

It is worthy to note that these posts were not taken down by Facebook for breach of community standards or hate speech, nor was the claim proven in court. Mr Bala pleaded guilty because he might have suffered a mental meltdown and wanted to end the charade by giving in.

As a community for atheists, it is sad to announce that a large number of atheists and humanists living in northern Nigeria (officially regarded as religious minorities) constantly face human rights violations.

Despite their using anonymous identities online, we keep seeing fanatics making death threats. It is not enough that the Islamic faith controls, the mainstream media, public life, schools, as well as government, there is a deliberate attempt by the so-called custodians of the faith to control the thought process of ordinary citizens. We have heard reports of how young men have been arrested in Kano for playing “worldly music” and wearing worldly haircuts and clothes.

Leo igwe,

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