Court Orders Release of Nigerian Atheist, Mubarak Bala
The Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday has ordered the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), to release a self acclaimed Nigerian atheist, Mubarak Bala, who was arrested in Kaduna on February 28, 2020 for alleged blasphemous Facebook posts that were capable of causing disruption of peace.
Delivering judgment in the fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by Bala, Justice Inyang Ekwo declared that his arrest and detention by the IGP and the NPF in an unknown detention centre since February 28, 2020 “because he expressed his option about religion on Facebook, constitutes an infraction of the applicant’s rights to personal liberty, fair hearing, freedom of thought, freedom of express and freedom of movement”.
The judge also declared that the action of the respondents “in denying the applicant access to his lawyers constitutes a gross infringement of the applicant right to legal rep of his choice under section 34 and 35(2) of the 1999 Constitution”.
He, therefore, made an order “directing the respondents to release the applicant from detention to his lawyers on bail forthwith”.
He also made an award of “general/exemplary damages against the first and second respondents in the sum of N250, 000 for the infraction of the fundamental rights of the applicant”.
The applicant had sued the IGP, the NPF, and the Attorney-General of the Federation in his fundamental rights enforcement suit, alleging that the respondents violated his rights.
Justice Ekwo observed in his judgment on Monday that the IGP and the NPF never showed up in the case despite being served with the processes in the suit filed by the applicant and the hearing notices with regard to the case.
But the judge discontinued the case against the AGF on the basis that the matter disclosed no cause of action against the AGF.
The judge ruled on Monday that the affidavit evidence put forward by the applicant not being challenged or controverted by the respondents was deemed admitted and could be relied on by the court.
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