A human rights lawyer, Bulama Bukarti has sensationally claimed that humanist, Mubarak Bala, planned his Tuesday arrest and possible prosecution to gain asylum in the United States or Europe.
Gistmania had reported Bala’s arrest on Wednesday. In a statement, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Humanist Association of Nigeria (HAN), Leo Igwe, had said that Bala, the group’s president, could be prosecuted for blasphemy in Kano, an offence which he said carried the death penalty sentence under Sharia Law.
Kaduna State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mohammed Jalige confirmed his arrest.
But reacting on Twitter, Bukarti, a doctoral candidate at the SOAS University of London, said it was not true that Bala was arrested for blasphemy.
According to him, the humanist was picked up for allegations of inciting public disturbance and possible cybercrimes.
He claimed that the humanist “wants to get arrested and prosecuted so he can use it to apply for asylum in Europe or the US”.
Bukarti wrote on Wednesday, “Pope Francis best articulated the limits to free speech when he said while throwing a mock punch: “If my good friend Dr. Gasbarri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch.” Muslims love, revere and respect Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) more than their parents.
“Mubarak Bala wasn’t arrested for blasphemy nor by a Sharia Court and those peddling this lei know it. He’s arrested on allegations of inciting public disturbance and possible cybercrimes. Both are offences EVERYWHERE in Nigeria. His utterances are intentionally offensive.
“Mubarak has a right to choose any faith or none at all and to express himself, but freedom of speech has never been absolute especially when it insults or ridicules someone’s faith. Your hands are yours, but your right to stretch them stops where your neighbour’s nose begins.
“Mubarak has a right to hold negative views about Islam, but Muslims too have a right not to be insulted by him. They’ve a right to practice their faith free from his insults. I think no one should punch him, but there’s (n0) harm in investigating the allegations and prosecuting him.
“But left to me, Mubarak shouldn’t have been arrested because that’s exactly what he wants. He wants to get arrested and prosecuted so he can use it to apply for asylum in Europe or the US. He should have been left to continue to be the background noise that he has always been.”