Mubarak Bala, a popular Kano-born atheist, has been handed a 24-year jail term after pleading guilty to all the 18-count charges levelled against him.
Bala, who is the president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, was arrested at his home in Kaduna on April 28, 2020 and taken to Kano, where complaints of blasphemy and incitement were lodged against him.
He had earlier posted comments critical of Islam, Allah and Prophet Muhammad on Facebook, causing outrage among Muslim.
One of his posts reads: “Religion is not a person, long dead people are dead, Gods do not exist, so why fear analysis & critique on works attributed to them?
There has been campaign for his release or trial, with activists saying he was out of touch with his wife and lawyer.
However, when he appeared before Justice Farouk Lawan of Kano High Court 4, Audu Bako Secretariat on Tuesday, April 5, Bala pleaded guilty to all the charges.
When the judge asked him whether he knows the consequences of his guilty plea, Mr Bala insisted not to change his initial plea.
Mr Bala’s lawyer, James Ibor, had earlier tried to persuade his client to change his plea, but he insisted that he was guilty to charges.
The lawyer however cited frustration and fear as reasons for his client’s guilty plea, saying his client had been in prison for two years.
But Mr Bala, who appeared unruffled, raised his hand and told the court that he was guilty as charged.
In his plea of leniency, Mr Bala however, said the intent of his social media posts was not to cause violence. He therefore promised not to repeat the blasphemous posts in future.
Passing the sentence, Justice Lawan sentenced him to 24 years imprisonment.