By Abdulla Gaafarelkhalifa
On December 22, 2021, Mubarak Bala, an Ex-Muslim atheist and President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, will have spent a chilling 600 days in police custody. He was arrested at his home in Kaduna on April 28, 2020, and taken to the northern state of Kano where he faced blasphemy accusations and charges from religious figures. Despite Nigeria’s Customary Constitution, which punishes blasphemy with a possible 2 year jail sentence, blasphemy is punishable by death in the regions where Sharia law is enforced on the muslim populaiton.
The detention of Mubarak Bala stems from Facebook posts, in which Bala allegedly insulted the Prophet Mohammed.
Nearing this grim milestone, Amina Ahmed, Mubarak’s wife, spoke about her own experiences since her husband’s arrest. “I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. The emotional torture was too much for me,” Ahmed told The Associated Press (AP) in her home in Abuja, Nigeria.
James Ibor, Bala’s attorney, told the AP that Bala has been denied access to health care, kept in solitary confinement, and has been forced “to worship the Islamic way” since he’s been imprisoned.
Prosecutors claim that Bala has confessed to the charges while imprisoned, when his attorney was not present, and could face two years behind bars. Even though he has already spent nearly that amount of time pre-conviction, he has not been properly sentenced.
The treatment of pre-convicts is not specific to Bala, as just 28% of prison inmates have been tried and convicted of a crime, according to the Nigerian Correctional Service.