A High Court headed by Justice Farouk Lawan has sentenced a Kano-born atheist, Mubarak Bala, to 24 years in a correctional centre for inciting statements, contempt of religion and breach of public peace.
Bala was convicted after pleading guilty to an 18-count charge slammed on him by state government.
Bala, who is the president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, was arrested at his home in Kaduna on April 28, 2020 and brought to Kano where complaints of blasphemy and incitement were lodged against him.
Sometimes in 2020, Bala reportedly posted blasphemous statements on his Facebook account tagged: Mubarak Bala
However, when the judge asked him whether he knew the consequences of his guilty plea, Bala insisted on not changing his initial plea.
His lawyer, James Ibor, had earlier persuaded Bala to change his plea, but he insisted that he was guilty of the charges.
Ibor thereafter cited frustration and fear as reasons for his client’s guilty plea, saying Bala had been in prison for two years.
But, Bala, who appeared unruffled, raised his hand and told the court that he was guilty as charg
While pleading for leniency, he said the intent of his social media post was not to cause violence.
He, therefore, promised not to repeat the blasphemous posts in the future.
Justice Faroukh, however, ordered that the terms commenced as from when the convict was first arrested and similarly ordered the term should run concurrently.
By this order, the convict shall serve 24 years in correctional centre before he could regain his freedom.