Insulting Islam Got Him a 24-Year Sentence - The Story of Mubarak Bala

After going through an arduous legal battle that lasted over four years since his arrest in April 2020 for blasphemy, a Court of Appeal in the northern Nigerian state of Kano reduced Mubarak Bala’s sentence from 24 to 5 years in prison on May 13th.

The decision came after Bala, who previously served as the president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, appealed his conviction after a State High Court in Audu Bako, Kano State, sentenced him to 24 years in prison for committing blasphemy against Allah and the Prophet Muhammad.

The self-identified Nigerian atheist was accused of violating Section 210 of Kano State’s Penal Code and Section 26 (1)(c) of the country’s Cybercrimes Act of 2015. His conviction became a landmark case in Nigeria, and many politicians and organizations called for Bala’s release.

James Ibor, Bala’s lawyer, was elated over the decision, telling journalists they were “grateful the court agreed with us that the sentence was against the law.

“The full judgment will be published later this week, so until then, I don’t have much to say,” Bala’s counsel also said.

However, Ibor said Bala’s legal team is also interested in the court’s position regarding Bala’s challenge to the court's jurisdiction despite his guilty plea. Humanists International also said it had reason to believe Bala’s plea was made under duress.

Bala instructed his legal team to appeal on four grounds listed: “Lack of jurisdiction of the Kano State High Court; the Judge’s predisposition to convict as indicated in the delivery of his ruling; failure to accord Bala the benefits of a guilty plea and misapplication of law in sentencing Bala to consecutive terms.

On its website, Humanists International also said it "believes that Nigerian humanist Mubarak Bala has been targeted solely for his peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of religion or belief, and expression.”

It urged the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment of the High Court and uphold Bala’s appeal to quash his conviction and facilitate his immediate and unconditional release.

If you like our posts, subscribe to the Atheist Republic newsletter to get exclusive content delivered weekly to your inbox. Also, get the book "Why There is No God" for free.

Click Here to Subscribe

Donating = Loving

Heart Icon

Bringing you atheist articles and building active godless communities takes hundreds of hours and resources each month. If you find any joy or stimulation at Atheist Republic, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.

Or make a one-time donation in any amount.