An atheist, Mubarak Bala, has remained in the custody of the Kano State Police command for 40 days without trial for allegedly insulting Prophet Muhammad, The PUNCH reports.
Bala was arrested on April 28, 2020, in Kaduna State following a petition by a lawyer, Salisu Umar, accusing him of posting “inciting comments” on his Facebook wall.
He was subsequently transferred to the custody of the Kano State Police command where he has remained till date.
The Police Public Relations Officer in Kano State, Haruna Abdullahi, refused to comment on the matter when The PUNCH contacted him for comment on Sunday.
However, Mr. Umar, who wrote the petition against Bala, said the suspect had remained in custody because courts in Kano were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Umar said the police could not release the suspect because of security reasons.
The lawyer said, “All the courts in Kano are not operating because of COVID-19. He was arrested during the lockdown and at that time, all the courts were not sitting until now. Also, the police cannot grant him bail for his own protection.
“Many people are threatening to kill him. So, for his personal protection, the police feel if he is released, his life may be in danger. It is not my intention to get him killed.”
When asked if the suspect would be arraigned before a Shariah court, Umar said, “Why should he be arraigned before a Shariah court? He is not even a Muslim.”
The petition which led to Bala’s arrest reads, “We are submitting this complaint against one Mubarak Bala of Layin Masallacin Bilai, Karkasara Quarters, Kano.
“Mubarak was born and raised as a Muslim but for his own personal reason decided to leave Islam for atheism sometime in 2014 and has since then been writing stuff on his Facebook page that are provocative and annoying to the Muslims.”
Prior to his arrest, Bala had posted on his Facebook wall, “Fact is, you have no life after this one. You have been dead before, long before you were born, billions of years on death.”
A search through Bala’s Facebook page also shows him mocking Christian clerics, including the founder of The Synagogue, Church of All Nations, TB Joshua.
In 2014, then 29-year-old Bala was said to have been forcefully committed by his family to a psychiatric hospital in Kano when he renounced Islam.
Though Bala’s family believed he was insane, he was later discharged from the psychiatric hospital after he was declared sane.
Rights group, Humanists International, which champions equality and secularity, has condemned the prolonged detention of Bala.
A statement from the group read in part, “While we know that Bala was initially held in detention in Gbabasawa police station, Kaduna state. Attempts, made by his legal team to locate Bala following his transfer into the custody of Kano State Police Command have been unsuccessful.
“His prolonged detention without charge violates Bala’s rights to liberty, fair trial, freedom of thought and expression, and freedom of movement as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution and international human rights law.”