A Kano State High Court on April 5, 2022 sentenced a self-professed atheist, Mubarak Bala, to 36 years imprisonment after he reportedly pleaded guilty to and was convicted of 18-count charge of blasphemy, inciting contempt of religion and breach of public peace levelled against him by the Kano State Government. The sentences will run concurrently and he will serve 24 years in total.
Mubarak, President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, was on April 28, 2020, arrested by policemen at his residence in Kaduna State over a Facebook post considered to be critical of Islam and its holy Prophet Muhammad and following a petition filed by a group of Muslims to the authorities accusing him of posting uncomplimentary messages about Islam on social media.
Mubarak had on April 27, 2020 in a Facebook post compared Lagos pastor and president of Synagogue Church of all Nations, Prophet TB Joshua to Prophet Mohammed, saying: “There’s no difference between prophet TB Joshua (S.A.W) of Lagos and Muhammadu (A.S.) of Saudi Arabia, it is better for our Nigeria to be terrorism.” He was later transferred to Kano State which has stiff penalty for blasphemy in its Sharia law, for trial.
In another post, he said, “Whoever believes religion has been duped – If you can’t take blasphemy against Islam, criticism of its doctrines, this page is not for you. I have not even started ooo.”
The atheist appeared before a judge, Farouk Lawan, of Kano High Court 4, and reportedly pleaded guilty to all the 18 counts levelled against him. He also allegedly insisted he was not going to change his plea when the judge asked him whether he understood the consequences of his guilty plea.
The spokesperson to the Kano Ministry of Justice, Baba Jibo, said in a statement that Mubarak was sentenced to 48 years for inciting contempt of religion and breach of public peace.
Baba said: “He was convicted after pleaded guilty before the court with 18 count charges. The court ordered that the imprisonment term be commenced from the time he was initially arrested.
“Similarly, the court ordered the term should similarly run concurrently. By the order, the convict should serve 24 years in a correctional facility.”