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23.02.2021 Feature Article

Mubarak Bala: 300 days in Detention without trial

Mubarak Bala: 300 days in Detention without trial
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Yesterday marked 300 days since Nigerian Humanist, Mubarak Bala has been in detention without trial. Last year, some Muslim fanatics in Kano accused him of blasphemy. They petitioned the police, who arrested and detained him. He has yet to be formally charged, three hundred days after his arrest. While Kano authorities have worked together to resolve other cases of blasphemy, they have tactfully ignored Bala's.

For instance, the ministry of justice through the appeal court, the correctional services department (the prisons), and the police collaborated in processing the appeals of Yahaya Shariff and Umar Farouk. The appeal court ordered a retrial of Shariff's case but acquitted Farouk. Also, it took the joint effort of the police, the Kano state ministry of justice including the magistrate court at Gaydi Gaydi, the director of public prosecution, the attorney general, and the correctional services department to acquit the Christian barber and two of his clients, who were accused of blasphemy.

In the case of Mubarak Bala, this institutional synergy is missing. This combined action has not been happened. And it is a deliberate scheme by Kano authorities to frustrate the case and ensure that Bala remains behind bars. The police and the ministry of justice continue to deceive the outside world. They are using all sorts of lies and misinformation to 'justify' the illegal detention of Mubarak Bala. For the past 300 days, the police, and the attorney general of Kano state have not disguised their faithful commitment to a miscarriage of justice in the case of Mr. Bala.

For instance, the police arrested and disappeared Bala for the first 180 days. They gave him no access to a lawyer and refused him family visits They also refused to charge him. Following some local and international pressures, the police approached a magistrate court, obtained a warrant through a back door.

They remanded him in prison. Yes, the police got the court to transfer him to prison. It took another court order and some pressure on the authorities for the police to allow Mubarak Bala to meet his lawyer. Unlike the cases of Shariff and Farouk, the police and Ministry of Justice have refused to prosecute or acquit Bala. The police and the ministry of justice have worked together to achieve one thing in Bala's case- a remand.

They have worked together to give a semblance of legality to the illegal detention of Mubarak Bala. So it is not the case that these departments cannot working together or join efforts to resolve Bala's case. They can. But they will not. Kano authorities do not want to resolve the case. Yes, the police and the Ministry of Justice in Kano are not interested in freeing Mubarak Bala. They are only interested in appeasing the Ummah, especially the Islamic base in Kano.

Even after 300 days without trial, the Kano authorities are still putting up with this judicial charade. They are not willing to formally charge or release Bala. Instead, they are forging and fronting all sorts of excuses. For instance, in reaction to the court order (in December) that asked the police to release Mr. Bala, the police in Kano said Bala was no longer in their custody. Is that not absurd? In whose custody is he?

The police arrested him and got a court to remand in a prison in Kano. Didn't they? Based on this court order, is it not the duty of the police to ensure that Bala is released since they (police) were instrumental in his 'remand'? Why are the police and the Ministry of Justice making a caricature of themselves and the justice system in Kano? Why are they being cowardly and mischievous in handling his case?

Look, in the case of the Christian barber who was accused of blasphemy, the police prosecutor, a state lawyer, the director of public prosecution, and the attorney general liaised and resolved the matter. It is important to mention that within this period, the police moved the Christian barber and two other accused persons from a police cell to a prison. Still, the matter was speedily settled. There were no buck-passing and alibis. The police or the attorney general did not make excuses when the accused were moved to prison. The various sections worked together and ensured the accused were acquitted.

Unfortunately, this has not happened in the case of Mubarak Bala, and this combined action should happen. After three hundred days in detention without trial, Kano authorities should release Mubarak Bala. No more excuses!