Engr. Abba Kabir Yusuf,
The Governor-Elect of Kano State.
Congratulations on your election as the Governor of Kano State, after a hard-fought battle. We are glad that you were rewarded duly for your persistence.
We are writing to appeal to you on behalf of our community of humanists that upon your swearing-in, you should take the step to release Mubarak Bala, who has been jailed for blasphemy by the outgoing dictatorial government of Governor Ganduje in Kano State.
Mubarak Bala, who was born in Kano in 1984, started his trials when was forcibly admitted to a mental hospital in Kano for publicly declaring his atheism in 2014. During his 18 days at the mental hospital, he was pummeled, sedated, and threatened with death if he tried to flee. Despite his trials since then, Mubarak Bala patriotically made the decision to remain in Nigeria, and he was elected head of the Humanists in Nigeria. He was detained without being charged (after being apprehended in Kaduna for blasphemy) in April 2020 as a result of a Facebook post he made, which was alleged to be blasphemous because it was critical of religiosity. Since then, he had been moved around a lot in detention, between Kano, Kaduna, and Abuja. According to his lawyer, Mubarak Bala was "denied access to healthcare, kept in solitary confinement, and forced to worship the Islamic way" while in prison.
We understand that after pleading guilty to all 24 charges and requesting leniency, Mubarak was given a sentence of 24 years in jail by a secular high court in Kano State on April 5, 2022. We have it on good authority that Mr. Mubarak Bala pleaded guilty because he had been threatened with the safety of his young family - his wife and his baby boy. Mr. Bala has since then been jailed on charges of blasphemy, which we strongly believe is a violation of his fundamental human rights. Freedom of religion and freedom of expression are basic rights enshrined in the Nigerian constitution, and we urge you to uphold these values by releasing Mr. Bala and dropping all charges against him. We understand that all types of convicts in Nigeria are legally entitled to respite, clemency, or pardon indefinitely or for a specific period, which is granted by the governor and the president, respectively, under sections 212(1) and 175(1) and (2) of the Nigerian Constitution. It is this indefinite pardon that we appeal for as you take the mantle as the new Governor of the State.
We believe that the continued detention of Mr. Bala is a grave injustice that not only violates his rights but also undermines the rule of law and the principles of democracy that we all hold dear. It sends a chilling message to the people of Kano State and all Nigerians that their rights are not respected or protected by the government, and that they are not free to express their beliefs without fear of persecution. We are also writing you because we are aware that Abba Gida-Gida is known to be a respecter of everybody's beliefs according to the tenets of your party, NNPP. This is why we appeal to your sense of justice and love for your belief, to see it free from all forms of extremism and oppression. We ask that you do this for the common good of Kano State, the cause of human rights, and the Islamic Faith.
We, therefore, appeal to you as the newly elected governor of Kano State to demonstrate your commitment to the rule of law and the protection of human rights by releasing Mr. Bala immediately and unconditionally. We believe that this action will not only be just but also help to build trust between the government and the people of Kano State you have campaigned to serve, especially those who hold minority beliefs.
This quote from a 2016 article by Mubarak Bala speaks to the kind of heart he has. He said "What finally made me come out as an atheist was a video of a beheading of a female Christian back in 2013 by boys around my age, speaking my language. It hit me that the time for silence is over. Either someone speaks out or we all sink." This will show you that Mr. Mubarak Bala was never an enemy of the Islamic Faith, but a humanist who was critical of the extremism and crimes that are being justified with a religion of peace, and making that religion look bad. We do not believe that arrests and even threats of death can stop this human instinct for critical thought that was exemplified by Mubarak Bala.
It is on this basis that we hope that you will take our humble appeal seriously and act swiftly upon your swearing-in to end this injustice. We look forward to your prompt response and the release of Mr. Bala.
Omole Ibukun ([email protected])
Marvelous Alemonu ([email protected])
Freeman Isah Rabiu ([email protected])
Monsurat Omoshalewa ([email protected])
Justin Okeke ([email protected])
Elubeku Adisa ([email protected])
Okafor Obumneme Christian
Omosebi Ayodeji ([email protected])
For the Friends of Mubarak Bala