Humanists UK are organising a protest outside the Nigerian High Commission in London on Thursday 28 April in response to the sentencing of the president of the Nigerian Humanist Society, Mubarak Bala. The demonstration is timed to coincide with the second anniversary of Mr Bala’s initial arrest.
Mr Bala was convicted of 18 counts of causing a public disturbance under Sections 210 and 114 of the Kano State Penal Code, and sentenced to 24 years in prison by a High Court in Kano state on 5 April.
Mr Bala has been detained since 28 April 2020, when he was arrested at his home in Kaduna state following a petition to the Kano State Police Commissioner by a law firm in Kano state, accusing him of insulting Islam in Facebook posts. He was held incommunicado for the first 162 days of his detention, was denied access to his legal team for five months, and spent 462 days in prison before being formally charged.
Moreover, according to his lawyer, while in prison Mr Bala was denied medical care and forced to worship “the Islamic way.” In addition, a ruling by the Federal High Court in Abuja on 21 December 2020 ordering Mr Bala’s release on bail and compensation was disregarded.
In July 2021 a group of UN experts described Mr Bala’s arrest and detention as amounting to the “persecution of non-believers in Nigeria.”
The protest, organised by Humanists UK, will take place from 16:00-18:00 BST on Thursday 28 April outside the Nigerian High Commission, 9 Northumberland Avenue, near Trafalgar Square, London.
“The sentencing of Mubarak Bala earlier this month was a grave miscarriage of justice, and followed nearly two years in which his rights have been comprehensively violated. We fully endorse the protest and support calls for Mr Bala’s sentence to be overturned and for Nigeria’s blasphemy laws to be repealed. We encourage all those who the right to freedoms of expression and religion or belief to participate in this protest in solidarity with of Mr Bala and his family, and to send a message to the Nigerian authorities that no one should be harassed and imprisoned on account of their religion or belief.” CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said.