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Mubarak Bala: Policing Blasphemy and Justice Delayed in Kano

June 19, 2020

Author: Dr. Leo Igwe

Numbering: Issue 1.B, Idea: African Freethinking

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: African Freethinker

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: June 19, 2020

Issue Publication Date: TBD

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 1,003

Keywords: blasphemy, Islam, Kano, Leo Igwe, Mubarak Bala, policing, religion.

Mubarak Bala: Policing Blasphemy and Justice Delayed in Kano[1],[2]

Nigerian humanist, Mubarak Bala, who was arrested on April 28 for allegedly making posts on Facebook that were critical of the prophet of Islam has yet to be formally charged. Detained for over 40 days, his situation has patently become a case of justice denied. Why do I say so? Mr. Bala was arrested in Kaduna in April and was later transferred to Kano where he was expected to be charged. meanwhile, he did not commit the alleged crime in Kano. He is a resident in Kaduna. For over 40 days, the police in Kano refused to confirm his whereabouts. They have refused him access to a lawyer. The police have yet to formally charge him in court. The Nigerian police have not commented on this monumental abuse of power and the unconstitutional treatment of Mr. Bala. There has been a deafening silence from the Nigerian authorities, and the various religious organizations. There has not been a statement from progressive, moderate, and liberal Muslims. There has not been any word from other religious organizations in the country. Instead, the lawyer who signed the petition has addressed the press stating that Mr. Bala was in protective custody and has not been charged because the court had not been sitting due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Nobody should believe any of these lies and misinformation being used to cover up the abuse and maltreatment of Mr. Bala. The petitioner is not the spokesperson for the Nigerian police and the court. Is he? Very often, those who get angry when their prophet is criticized have no qualms lying and misinforming the world in the name of the same prophet and trying to secure a ticket to an imaginary paradise. This Islamist lawyer is using the police as a front to cover up their pious schemes and manipulations to punish Mr. Bala for an offense that he never committed. The police, not the petitioner should be the one to inform the world about the continued detention of Mr. Bala. The police should explain why Bala has been denied access to a lawyer and a formal court hearing. The claim that Bala is held in protective custody does not hold water. Holding someone in protective custody should not be a reason to deny him access to a lawyer. Should it? Meanwhile, the petitioner and his Islamist allies have access to Mr. Bala (assuming he is still alive) and know his current fate and whereabouts. They are satisfied with his current fate and predicament. It serves their islamist sense of justice.

Holding somebody in custody does not stop him from being charged in court. Does it? The police should know that there is everything wrong, unconstitutional, and unacceptable with the way they are handling the case.

If the Islamists who brought the petition applied to use the state police to seek redress for their anger over some Facebook posts, then the police should go about the case in a constitutional, not a confessional way. The police should put an end to this game of Ostrich that has made it clear whose interest that they are serving. The police are a state not a sharia establishment. It is obvious that the police arrested Mr. Bala in Kaduna and brought him to Kano to torture, torment, and penalize him in a way that appeases the petitioners and the Islamist base. The Islamists who sponsored that petition are only using the police as a front to inflict as much pain and punishment as they can on Mr. Bala. That is why there has not been any real move to charge or prosecute Bala in the past weeks. What a shame!

Instead every week it is one excuse after another. The police in Kano keep advancing all sorts of reasons why they have not brought Mr. Bala before a court. At some point, the police denied knowing where he was detained. At another point, they said that they were conducting their investigation. Some weeks ago, the police prosecutor said he was sick. The following week, he came to court without Mr. Bala and now the police are claiming that they have taken him back to Kaduna. When will all these excuses and alibis end? When will the police rise up to their constitutional duty? If the police knew that they had no case against Mr. Bala why did they arrest him? Why not release him? Now they have held him incommunicado for over 40 days, whose interest are they serving? Whom are they trying to appease!? The Islamists who brought the petition? The prophet who was allegedly insulted? Or the omniscient, Allah, who knew about the post before the petitioners and before Bala posted it? The police should not allow themselves to become an instrument for religious bigots and the furtherance of Islamic hate, fanaticism, and injustice. As a saying goes, justice delayed is justice denied.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, Humanist Association of Nigeria; Founder & CEO, Advocacy for Alleged Witches; Convener, Decade of Activism against Witch Persecution in Africa: 2020-2030.

[2] Individual Publication Date: June 19, 2020: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mubarak-bala-policing-blasphemy-and-justice-delayed-in-kano.

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