A hearing scheduled for 10 December 2020, in which the judge had committed to delivering their verdict on whether the arrest and ongoing detention without charge of Nigerian humanist Mubarak Bala violates his fundamental rights, was postponed to 21 December due to a case backlog.
President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, Mubarak Bala, was arrested on 28 April in connection with a Facebook post. He has subsequently been detained without charge for more than six months. Bala’s lawyers, who only gained access to their client in October, filed a fundamental rights petition before the Abuja High Court challenging the legality of Bala’s ongoing detention and arrest. At a hearing on 19 October, the judge committed to delivering their verdict in the case by no later than 10 December 2020. Upon learning of the postponement, founder of the Humanist Association of Nigeria and Board Member of Humanists International, Leo Igwe, stated:
“This is unfortunate because the case of Mubarak Bala has lingered for too long. The case has been marked by unnecessary delays and postponements while Bala continues to languish in jail without any formal charge. At a time when the United States has listed Nigeria among the worst violators of ‘religious freedom’ in the world, the Nigerian authorities have an opportunity to redeem their image and ensure that Mubarak Bala gets justice. Nigeria should use the case of Bala to prove to the world that it is a protector not a violator of the right to freedom of religion or belief.”
Humanists International believes that Mubarak Bala is being targeted for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and religion or belief, and calls for him to be charged or released; should he be charged, he should be transferred to a neutral territory in order to ensure his right to a fair trial.