By Sakiru Yisau

Religion is a tool of oppression in the hand of the people. Once a religious group is in the
majority, the likelihood of oppressing the minority group is very high. This is the case of some
conservative Muslim majority states in the Northern part of Nigeria where some people see the
adherent of other belief, which are in minority, as the enemy of state. This notion is amplified by
political elite who, in the cause of seeking political preservation, created a majority-minority
narrative without minding the negative social and mental effect it will have on the people.

About two decades ago, after the demise of the then Head of State, General Abacha, the military
government under the authority of General Abdusalami Abubakar finally succumbed to the
agitation of the people to halt the military rule, which some described as brutal, for democracy.
Prior to this period, Sharia used to be categorize as a customary law in Nigeria, but the then
governor of Zamfara state, Ahmad Sani Yerima, started the push for the institution of Sharia at
the state level and the early millennium witnessed the adoption of this idea by more than 10
states in the Northern part of Nigeria.

Aside the fact that the move to inculcate Sharia law at the state level is political, those governors
were able to make it happen due to the fact that their states have Islam as the dominant religion
and the Muslim majority see it as an avenue to propagate their religion without caution and no
respect for those with contrary belief. This aggravated the non-tolerance of the Muslim majority
in some areas and they see themselves as the owner of the state with no regards to the belief of
others who are in the minority – Christian and Atheist for instance.

The Nigeria state recognizes the freedom of thought, religion and the right to freedom of
expression, but the Sharia law is inconsistent with the law of the land because it is the law of a
particular belief system which most times does not take into consideration the right of others to
religion, thought and freedom of expression and its punishment most times, negate the
fundamental human right of every citizen.

Human right organizations, with the help of some concerned citizens, has recorded some
success at the Supreme Court against some rulings of the Sheria court and it mostly base on the
noncompliance of the Sheria law with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Some
are lucky to benefit from the assistance rendered by the people and some organizations, but many
people in some Northern states are still at the mercy of the Sheria court that’s massively backed
by the state. One of such people is Mubarak Bala, who was arrested for blasphemy over a
Facebook post and he has been denied his right to fair trial.

Mubarak Bala, President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, was allegedly arrested in his
Kaduna house around April 2020, over a Facebook post. He was reportedly transported to Kano
state and he has since been denied the right to see his lawyer and family, and it is nobody knows
his whereabouts. It’s obvious that his continuous detention without trial is a state sponsored
injustice and his case is one of many that have gone unnoticed.

The thought of Mubarak Bala being tried under Sharia law is provoking and such law should not exist in a
multi religious country like Nigeria. Sharia law has created inequality in the Northern part of
Nigeria where people with different belief are perceived as enemy of the state. I am an Omnist
and I don’t subscribe to unguided talk about people’s belief, but I think every believe system
thrives on blasphemy and almost everybody will be culpable if we are to tread that path.

The continuous detention of Mubarak Bala is an indication of a failed country we live where
someone can just ordered arrest and in some cases without traces – Dadiyata, who has been
missing for over a year comes to mind. Many are in prison and police custody on an order of the
powerful. Many are killed by the zealot state agents and many stories are unknown.

Our humanity is determined by standing with one another and we must not relent in calling for
justice and fighting for one another. Mubarak has a wife and a little child he has not seen for
months and it is traumatic to think that Mubarak is in the custody of those who value not the life
of their fellow man. It is on this note I call for immediate release of him and trial of all parties
involved in this unlawful detention and violation of his fundamental human right.

Free Mubarak Bala!

(c) Sakiru Yisau 2020