Bala: Man accused of insulting Prophet Muhammad held incommunicado by Police since April

Bala: Man accused of insulting Prophet Muhammad held incommunicado by Police since April

Mubarak Bala, a man accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad has allegedly been held incommunicado by the Nigerian Police since April 28, 2020.

This was disclosed by global human rights watch-dog, Human Rights Watch, on Wednesday.

Further, the body has called on the Police to immediately disclose his whereabouts. 1st News reports that Bala is the president of the Nigerian Humanist Association. He was picked up over an allegedly offensive post on the social media network, Facebook.

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Specifically, the petition against Bala, an outspoken religious critic, pertained to a post on his Facebook page; where he had compared Prophet Muhammad to a Nigerian preacher who he suggested was better than the Prophet because he was not a terrorist. The petitioners contend that he had violated Nigeria’s cybercrime law; sections of which criminalizes insult of people based on their religion. Also, it was alleged that the posts ran contrary to the Kano State penal code. The code dictates punishments of up to two years in prison for public insults or contempt of any religion likely to lead to a breach of peace.

Bala was arrested at his home by police in Kaduna State in April.

He was allegedly transferred to Kano State on Saturday May 2. Since then, details of his whereabouts have been unknown. Also, he has allegedly been denied access to his wife and lawyers.

The development has been severely condemned by the New York-based Human Rights. Anietie Ewang, a researcher at the non-governmental organization says the action of the Police is an infringement of his rights.

“Regardless of the offense or the sensitivity of the case, the authorities may not withhold information on Bala’s whereabouts from people legally authorized to know. The authorities are required to ensure that he has regular and adequate access to his legal counsel, and Bala’s family should be able to speak to him.

“The authorities should urgently allow Bala’s lawyers access to their client and preclude any further delay in the justice process. Immediate steps should be taken to charge him with an offense that does not violate his human rights, or release him unconditionally,” Ewang stated.


Counsel to Bala, James Ibor, told Human Rights Watch that the Police have not filed any charges. Nevertheless, he says a First Information Report was filed before a magistrate court; which under the criminal procedure code should evaluate whether to proceed with charges. Thereafter, the magistrate had granted a police application to keep Bala in protective custody. However, he said details of the order were not made available to his defence counsel.

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On June 29, the Magistrate Court in Kano granted an order mandating the police to allow Bala’s lawyers access to him. This was after a formal application was made. However, Human Rights Watch says the order is yet to be processed by the chief magistrate. Therefore, it cannot be enforced; a development the body says appears to be an effort to further impede access to Bala.

The situation has reportedly caused undue anxiety for his wife.

Human Rights Watch says she has repeatedly called the Kano State Police Commissioner to ask about her husband’s whereabouts. However, her enquiries have met with no response.

Lawyers to the incarcerated Bala had filed a case at the Federal High Court in Abuja in May. But the case is reportedly yet to be heard due to delays in court processes occasioned by COVID-19. The suit seeks to challenge Bala’s arrest and detention as a violation of his rights to liberty; as well as fair trial, freedom of thought and expression and freedom of movement; as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution and international human rights law.

Meanwhile, the Police have denied preventing access to Bala. Habu Ahmadu, the Kano state police commissioner, told Human Rights Watch that Bala’s case was before the courts; where he is free to have legal representation.

Insults to religion are outlawed in Nigeria, especially in view of their divisive tendencies. Also, Sharia laws applicable in the North, including Kano, also criminalize blasphemy. Evidences abound of people sentenced to death for blasphemy under Sharia law.

More worrying is the reaction to allegations of blasphemy especially against Islam. Suspects have been tortured, stoned or killed extra judicially by incensed and fanatical adherents. In addition, Human Rights Watch notes that blasphemy allegations have also triggered violent riots and killings in Kano State.

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1 Comment

  1. Moe

    The law in Nigeria only favor the Muslim but y???
    How many times has daddy freeze been insulting Jesus and Pastors? But Y? When will we treat each other as Nigerians? Religion is really building up a hate for the future


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