Some days come and go leaving a fading shadow in our minds. Other days, hit us like a jackammer and leave a deep impression that never fades. April 5, 2022, was one such day.
After just shy of two years in prison, after waiting 14 months to be charged and 23 months for his case to come to a court of law, and 15 months after a court found Mubarak Bala was illegally detained and ordered his immediate release, a court today passed sentence upon this man.
In April 2020, Mubarak was arrested following a complaint by Kano lawyer, SS Umar, that a Facebook post by Mubarak was annoying and provocative to Muslims. You might be forgiven for thinking that, in a modern secular state like Nigeria, in which freedom of expression is explicitly protected by the Federal Constitution, nothing could come of such a fickle complaint. But you would be wrong.
Today, a court in Kano sentenced Mubarak Bala to a term of 24 years imprisonment. Yes, twenty-four years.
That a person should suffer ANY penalty for exercising their guaranteed rights is perverse. But 24 years in a country in which a life sentence is generally reckoned to be 20 years is utterly, shockingly unconscionable. In Kano State, the rule of law has been strangled by those who put their religion above the law.
AAI condemns this sentence in the strongest terms. And we condemn the protracted violations of Mubarak’s fundamental rights and the egregious abuses of due process that have facilitated this horror show.
This injustice will be appealed.