By Adeusi Anthony Kay
Mubarak Bala is the leader of Humanists Association of Nigeria, an Atheist group with a good Social media presence on Facebook. ‘
There was provocative statement he (you can search for his name on the internet as I do not want to replicate his statements here) made on social media that has set the wheels in motion for the complaint filed against him by a group of Lawyers in Kano State, Nigeria.
A case can be made for Bala on the premise that the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, and therefore being the ultimate Law, for some of its fault cannot be vilified for not making provisions for tenets such as thoughts, religion and expression. These are in fact fundamental rights embedded specifically in sections 38 and 39 respectively.
The criminal and penal codes however appears to have overdone themselves by introducing crimes such as “Blasphemy” into its provisions, and punishable by death in the North where the Penal code is applicable, and a maximum of two years where the criminal code is applicable.
This Blasphemy as a crime on the face of it contrasts with Sections 38 and 39 CFRN 1999(as amended, that entitles Nigerians to freedom of thought and conscience with 39(1) going further to state that such persons may even express his opinions, views and ideas without interference through any media (which must necessarily now include social media forums like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram amongst others.
We must by the way resist the quarrelsome urge to become impassionate about the Law and the reality we live in.
For Bala to be prosecuted by any Sharia court system in Nigeria he must voluntarily submit to the Jurisdiction of the court, which is highly improbable given that Bala is a professed Atheist since his early years, as acknowledged by S.S Umar & Co that filed the complaint. This is further corroborated by a post on his Facebook page dated the 26th day of April, 2020.
This debunks the narrative by some quarters that he is Pro-Christian; this isn’t a rift between a Christian and Muslims and it is wiser to not stray from bone of contention which is Blasphemy, Libel and Slander.
If Mubarak Bala doesn’t submit to the court’s Jurisdiction, he is likely to be indicted on a charge of Blasphemy that is known to the Sharia Law, and may in addition still be prosecuted for slander and libel.
A salient point why a suit against Bala may be unsuccessful in addition to other factors aforestated is the provisions of Section 10 CFRN 1999 (as amended) that states “The Government of the federation or of a state shall not adopt any religion as state Religion”. This provision consequently renders Nigeria to be a secular state. This, realistically won’t help Bala’s Prosecution.
It is the outright opinion of this writer that Mubarak Bala presented himself as a rabble-rouser and is actions and Facebook posts can justifiably be considered irksome especially in this month of sobriety for Muslims all over the word. No right is absolute, the freedom of expression and thoughts doesn’t give a right to provoke, libel or slander.
The Social media is however agog with comments insinuating violence against Bala, and those that may stand with his belief against God. This will do nothing but only accelerate the progress of the country into a state of nature, a situation the country can ill afford.
A learned friend quipped “any religion at all or personal belief should be about peace and not destruction, whether as an Atheist or not, we should always consider these tenets in the exercise of our believes and practice of Religion.”
As a Nation, we must realize that violence and deaths caused by provocation and misunderstanding can be so terribly final, while in understanding and tolerance, life is full of possibilities.