Some international organisations have expressed outrage over the jailing of an atheist, Mubarak Bala, for Blasphemy by a Kano State High Court.
On Tuesday, the court sentenced to 24 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to an 18-count charge levelled against him by the state government.
Mr Bala, who is the president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, was arrested at his home in Kaduna State on April 28, 2020, over his Facebook post, considered being critical of Prophet Mohammed and Islam.
The post reportedly caused outrage among Muslims in many parts of Northern Nigeria, who are predominantly Muslims.
Mr Bala was subsequently arrested following a petition by a lawyer, S.S Umar, and other Islamic clerics and transferred to Kano State.
A day of Shame
Responding to the verdict, Humanists International, an umbrella group for atheists around the world, described the jailing of Mr Bala as “utterly disgraceful.”
“Today is a sad day for humanism, human rights and freedom in Nigeria. The sentencing of Mubarak Bala is a stark violation of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief. We urge the authorities in Nigeria to ensure that this judicial charade does not stand.”
In a statement posted on its website, Humanists International said it was ‘shocked’, adding that the verdict was “utterly disgraceful.”
President of Humanists International, Andrew Copson, said the government denied Mr Bala a fair trial for two years.
In the same vein, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom said Mr Bala should not have been charged in the first place.
“USCIRF is outraged that Nigerian authorities sentenced humanist leader Mubarak Bala to 24 years in prison on blasphemy charges,” USCIRF Commissioner Frederick A. Davie said.
Mr Davie said that Mr Bala pleaded guilty because they subjected him to harsh detention for two years, which led to him having health problems.
USCIRF encourages the United States government to engage urgently with Nigerian counterparts to protect Bala from this severe sentence, which is a clear violation of his right to freedom of belief as defined under international law,” said another USCIRF Commissioner Tony Perkins
Amnesty International Nigeria also joined in condemning the sentence.
In a tweet Wednesday afternoon, expressed concern over the court ruling.
“Amnesty International is concerned that Mubarak Bala has been sentenced to 24 years imprisonment under criminal charges for breaching public peace through his Facebook posts of April 2020.
“No one should go to jail solely for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression, thought, and belief,” the tweet read.
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