The Nigeria Police Force has failed to release atheist Mubarak Bala, despite an order of the Federal High Court mandating the Inspector-General of Police to release him.
Bala, who is also the President of the Nigerian Humanist Association, was arrested for allegedly blaspheming Prophet Mohammed in a Facebook post in April.
A lawyer, S. S. Umar, subsequently petitioned the Commissioner of Police in Kano State, demanding Bala’s arrest. They arrested Bala in Kaduna State and transferred him to Kano where he has remained since April 28, 2020.
Bala’s lawyers filed a fundamental human rights suit before Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja. The court on December 21, 2020, ordered Bala’s immediate release.
However, it was learnt that Bala spent Christmas and Boxing Day in prison and might spend the New Year in detention if the court order was not complied with by Thursday.
Speaking with The PUNCH on Tuesday, Bala’s lawyer, Mr James Ibor, said the police had no intention of obeying the court order.
Ibor said, “A court of law gave an order which was served on the police but the police have refused to comply.
“We have written to the police, we have made calls, some embassies have reached out. We ensured that the order was given to them because they didn’t come to court. The court served the police headquarters and we have evidence of the service.
“They have not filed any notice of appeal. It is not even judgment they can appeal. It is a final ruling because the court over-indulged them. The matter was consistently adjourned at their instance; they didn’t file anything; they just stopped coming to court. The IGP didn’t come despite the processes served on him.”
According to affidavits, the police in Kano State denied Bala access to his lawyers for several months. Amid protests from several human rights organisations including Amnesty International, the police filed a First Information Report before a magistrate court in No Man’s Land, Kano, accusing Bala of breaching the Cyber Crime Act to obtain a remand order.
However, no date was given for arraignment, thereby allowing the cops to hold him for months before transferring him to a correctional centre in Kano.
Attempts to speak with the Public Relations Officer in Kano State, Haruna Abdullahi, proved abortive as his phone was off while the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, did not respond to calls.