Mubarak Bala: A Call For Justice, Equity and Fairness

May 3, 2024 | Press Releases

Since its official proclamation by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1993, sequel to the recommendation of United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, General Conference, the World Press Freedom Day’s significance as a stark reminder of the inalienable freedom to seek, disseminate, and receive information, has grown exponentially, even in the face of oftentimes shocking repudiation of those self-same rights by authorities across the world.

 As the world commemorates the World Press Freedom Day, the National Association of Seadogs Pyrates Confraternity (NAS/PC) stands in solidarity with journalists and advocates for freedom of expression around the world. This year’s emphasis on “the importance of journalism and freedom of expression in the context of the current global environmental crisis” seeks to address the indispensability of journalistic work in the pursuit of a democratic world assailed by crippling environmental crises. On this auspicious occasion, the NAS/PC is compelled to draw the world’s attention to the ongoing incarceration of Mubarak Bala, President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

Mubarak Bala, a prominent activist and staunch advocate for humanist principles, was unjustly jailed in 2020 following allegations of blasphemy against Islam. Despite Nigeria’s commitment to secularism and the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression, Bala was arrested from his Kaduna home by the state’s police command on April 28, 2022 for alleged blasphemy over Facebook posts which he made. For over 5 months, he was detained without access to legal counsel, and with his family not knowing his whereabouts. He spent 12 months in prison without any charge levied against him. Specifically on August 3 2021, he was handed a 10-count charge in a Kano court for allegedly “causing public disturbance” in relation to the Facebook posts of April 2020. A Kano State High Court, on April 5 2022, convicted Mubarak Bala of 18 counts under Sections 210 and 114 of the Kano State Penal Code, respectively, and sentenced him to 24 years in prison without due process, highlighting a troubling erosion of fundamental rights.

The guilty plea leading to this obnoxious sentencing is widely believed to have been made under duress. His appeal challenging the Kano High Court’s jurisdiction to hear the matter, the patently biased predisposition of the judge in the course of the trial and sentencing, and the legal aberration in convicting him to consecutive terms is pending in a Kano State Court of Appeal.

Beyond this course of action, Bala has also made a plea for amnesty to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, via a handwritten letter, dated May 29 2023, which he penned from his Kuje Correctional Facility jail cell.

 NAS/PC views Mubarak Bala’s imprisonment as a grave violation of freedom of speech and press freedom, essential pillars of any democratic society. The right to express dissenting views and engage in constructive dialogue is fundamental to fostering an open, inclusive, and tolerant society. In a secular state like Nigeria, individuals must be free to peacefully express their beliefs, including criticism of religious ideologies, without fear of reprisal or persecution.

Bala’s case underscores the urgent need to uphold and protect these fundamental rights, which are enshrined in international human rights instruments and Nigeria’s own Constitution. It is, therefore, unfathomable that Mr Bala continues to languish in jail, amidst unnerving reports that his deteriorating health has not received adequate medical attention. 


As we join the strident global outrage against Mubarak Bala’s unjust incarceration, we urge President Bola Tinubu and all other relevant authorities to:

  • Immediately release him from prison detention and drop all charges against him, respecting his right to freedom of expression and due process.
  • Ensure the safety and protection of journalists, activists, and individuals advocating for human rights and secularism in Nigeria.
  • Uphold Nigeria’s commitment to secularism and the principle of separation between religion and state, in order to safeguard the rights of all citizens regardless of their beliefs. 
  • Promote tolerance, pluralism, and respect for diverse viewpoints within Nigerian society, to create an environment conducive to freedom of expression and peaceful coexistence.
  • Collaborate with civil society organisations, human rights defenders, and international partners to promote and protect freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Nigeria.

NAS/PC, in line with its seven decades-old ethos, reaffirms its unwavering commitment to defending freedom of speech, promoting human rights, and advocating for justice and accountability.

We call upon all stakeholders, both within Nigeria and globally, to join us in demanding the release of Mubarak Bala and standing up for press freedom and human rights. The enduring principles of democracy, tolerance, and freedom must be upheld at all times, ensuring that all individuals can express themselves freely and contribute to the advancement of a just and inclusive society.

 Abiola Owoaje 

NAS Capoon 


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