Activist arrested and detained
Leading up to his arrest, Mubarak Bala received death threats from extremist groups in Kano state for openly expressing his dissenting religious beliefs. Following his arrest on 28 April, the Kaduna state police command said that he was detained on the orders of the Kano state police command. Later that day, after his arrest, a petition written by a group of lawyers surfaced on social media. It was addressed to the Kano state police command, accusing Mubarak of insulting Islam and urging the police to arrest and prosecute him for blasphemy. He has not been charged to court and it is unclear when he will be charged because he is currently incommunicado.
Sharia law is applied in 12 states across the predominantly Muslim north of Nigeria, including Kano, where blasphemy is punishable by death. Section 210 of the Penal Code of Kano State states “Whoever by any means publicly insults or seeks to incite contempt of any religion in such a manner as to be likely to lead to a breach of the peace, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years.” In 2015, a Sharia court sentenced eight men and one woman to death for insulting the Prophet Muhammad in Kano state. Their trial was done in secret after a section of the court was burnt down by angry protesters. It is still not known if the offenders appealed the sentence.