One of the dumbest possible ways to conduct oneself as a group in a society, or as the leadership or a collective within a culture, is to start problems or act insensibly where no problems exist or sense would reason otherwise; within the context of the young life and times of Mubarak, this has happened precisely two major times against him. One time in 2014 with even the idiotic grandstanding psychopathy of Abubakar Shekau making open statements against Bala. This is an individual so far beyond the horror of the contexts described and the inequitable difficulties delineated around the world, by Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson, Bridgett Crutchfield/Bria Crutchfield, Mandisa Thomas, Liz Ross, Candace Gorham, Deanna Adams, Cecilia Pagan, Ingrid Mitchell, Lilandra Ra, Marquita Tucker, Mashariki Lawson-Cook, Rajani Gudlavaletti, Sonjiah Davis, and Sadia Hameed, and a number of other exceptional secular women deserving far more media coverage, interviews, references to professional work, and republication of materials (in part or whole) making their individual marks. Many who have supported him in international efforts.
Here’s Abubakar Shekau’s rap sheet: Through Boko Haram, he has displaced more than 2,000,000 people, killed 1,000s, while hundreds have been raped under the ideological banner of fundamentalist, militant Islam of Shekau, or Abu Mohammed Abubakar bin Mohammad al-Sheikawi. This excludes the massive decline from the Nigerian economy based on the transfer of resources to combat the militant group, the lives destroyed in the process through joining, being raped, killed, or displaced, or as dross in the midst of war, mayhem, and hiring for fighting religious fundamentalist lunatics (an extremely foolish or eccentric person).
The second time for Bala was in 2020. He and I were communicating on April 27, and were supposed to conducted several interviews on April 28, as we were talking on April 28. Then the communication went dead on the morning of the 28th. Obviously, he had been apprehended at that time. I went through the relevant documentation. It was clear. They had concocted a crock reason and then to make a lesson and a show of Bala gathered him and dragged him to Kaduna. Why? Probably, it is to appease religious fundamentalists in various parts of northern Nigeria with some emphasis on Kano.
We still don’t know the whereabouts of Bala; we still do not understand the formal process for the reasoning; we do not see the reason for apprehension by two non-uniformed police officers, dragging away to jail in under 24 hours, jailed in Kaduna, and then presumably jailed in Kano to an unknown location without a formal ability to see a lawyer. This was between April 28 and 29 for the ‘apprehension’ and jailing followed by the transfer to Kano. Bala could be dead or alive. Because, the Nigerian authorities and to some extent the media have been silent on these issues. Even when not silent, they’ve been conspicuously silent on the truth on these matters.
In that, they’ve simply lied. It makes one wonder. Why lie? On the religious proclaimed ethics, it is a sin to lie. On the journalism side, it is unethical to lie. In both contexts, it is a quotidian of untruth, falsity, every time Bala is not provided freedom or a fair, secular trial. Why not give him a fair trial? Why not let the public know the truth about his whereabouts and case? Why keep silent on this most important of issues of the life of a modern pillar of Humanism in Africa? If they wanted a fight (the one we didn’t want), they’ve got it; and, we’re not going to give up.
It has been 55 days since the illegitimate and unconstitutional (in Nigeria) apprehension of Bala. 55 days of a human rights violation for a prominent and known person in Nigeria and made notorious in 2014 because of atheist status, former Muslim, and humanist status. Why is this injustice being permitted in the hallowed halls of the police authorities, the coverage of the Nigerian media, and the legal and human rights mechanisms of Nigeria? Because he is prominent and rejects the common superstitions, denies the veracity of the storybooks in most Nigerian homes, and, the most recognizable social crime, being open about the lack of belief in them, even cutting and direct with the language. That’s why? It’s the reason for the charges against him by S.S. Umar & Co. It was the reason for the Change.Org campaign looking for 25,000 signatures. It was the reason for apprehension to make an example of him. And it could be the difference that makes or breaks the story of him here, because he believed, differently.
I ask Nigerian the faithful. If this is the context in which Nigerians live and remain willing to be silent and complicit on this matter, then the identical charge and actions could be made against Muslims in Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Osun, Ilorin and Sokoto or Christians in Abuja, Benin City, Calabar, Ibadan, Jos, Kaduna, Lagos, Onitsha, Owerri. If not for the sake of another human being endowed with the same human rights as everyone else, then why not for the sake of others throughout Nigeria who believe differently than you, or even the same as you? Bala’s case could become a long-term and large-scale precedent because of his prominence as a non-believer. What if this became the case for every single prominent believer who said something offensive to another believer from a different religion? What would happen to these individuals?
That’s the context in which Bala found himself. It is the environs in which the international humanist community finds itself in regards to the life or death, freedom or imprisonment, situation for Bala. It’s unfair, ungrounded, and a total violation of the Nigerian constitution and of the international human rights of Bala. We have support from ordinary, moderate believers of all stripes – just read social media – and from the international freethought collectives, including the national and local ones in Nigeria. Even in believers’ homes, there will be dissenters, just ask any parent. The fundamental issue is the freedom for Bala, as in the justice for Bala, and some recompense for him, too, because of the travails endured for almost two months of illegitimate, illegal actions and blatant human rights violations in the face of the pressure of religious fundamentalists in spite of the protestations of non-believers around the world and ordinary believers all over Nigeria.
Free Mubarak Bala.
Image Credit: Mubarak Bala.