Abuja Court orders release of man held for blasphemy

Abuja Court orders release of man held for blasphemy

A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the release of Mubarak Bala who has been in incarceration in Kano over a blasphemy charge.

Bala is the President of the Nigerian Humanist Association.

The ruling has been welcomed by Humanists UK which has also urged the Kano State Government to comply and effect Bala’s release

Bala has been held in Kano since April, after being accused of blasphemy. Kano operates under Sharia Law and the crime of blasphemy is punishable by death. Equally important, the Kano State Government was accused of denying Bala access to his lawyers until October. Since then the UK Government, UN officials, and UK parliamentarians have all repeatedly called for his release.

A statement released by Humanists UK called on the Kano State Government to ensure the immediate release of Bala.

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‘‘The latest Court ruling from Abuja is based on federal law, so the Kano State authorities should in theory comply with it. However, it is unclear whether they will. Humanists International has been coordinating international efforts for his release and working with his lawyers. It is presently seeking to clarify the situation.’’

Also, Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of Humanists UK and President of Humanists International, expressed delight with the ruling; even as he joined the call for Bala’s immediate and unconditional release.

 ‘‘Today’s ruling by the High Court in Abuja is a victory for the human rights of all citizens in Nigeria. It is time our colleague Mubarak Bala was released immediately and unconditionally…We call upon leaders in Nigeria to respect due process and the rule of law.’’

Twelve states in the north operate the Sharia system of justice; but only Muslims can be tried in its courts.

The Sharia system, which also has its own Court of Appeal; handles both civil and criminal matters involving Muslims; and its judgements can also be challenged in Nigeria’s secular Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

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