Court of Appeal Reduces Mubarak Bala’s 24-Year Sentence for Blasphemy Conviction

Mr. Mubarak Bala, President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria

A Court of Appeal sitting in Kano has reduced to five years the 24-year jail sentence given to a professed atheist, Mr. Mubarak Bala by a Kano State High Court for alleged blasphemy.

Mr. Bala, President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, was arrested from his home in Kaduna State on April 28, 2020 in connection with a series of Facebook posts that were deemed to be “blasphemous” and likely to cause a public disturbance. He was taken to Kano where a Kano State High Court tried him and on April 5, 2022, convicted him on 18 counts of “causing a public disturbance” under Sections 210 and 114 of the Kano State Penal Code, respectively and sentenced him to 24 years in jail.

Unsatisfied with the judgment, Bala appealed the 24-year prison sentence instructing his lawyers to appeal the sentence on four grounds: 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.

When the matter came up on Monday, May 13, 2024, the presiding justices reportedly unanimously agreed that the sentence handed down to Bala in April 2022 was excessive and in contravention of the law and in the lead judgment delivered by Justice Usman Alhaji Musale, reduced the jail term to five years.