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Bala’s continued detention unfair

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Sir: The Kano State Governor, Alhaji Umar Abdullahi Ganduje, should be called out for his role in the continued detention without trial of the Nigerian humanist, Mubarak Bala. Bala has been in custody without any formal charge or prosecution since April 28, 2020. And Ganduje seems to be indifferent. He has refused to intervene and order the release of Bala despite local and international appeals and a Federal High Court order to that respect. Ganduje is the chief security officer of the state. He has the duty of guaranteeing the rights, safety and protection of people in Kano State. But he has reneged on his duty in the case of Bala. Why?

Since he was elected to govern Kano in 2015, Ganduje has not hidden his Islamist intent and mission. He has intervened in many cases involving allegations of blasphemy or perceived persecution or abduction of Muslims. Ganduje has wielded into cases involving Muslims in places outside Kano State, including the reported demolition of a mosque in Port Harcourt in 2019. In all these cases, Ganduje intervened to defend Islam as he understood it. He stepped in to shield Muslims from prosecution and justice.  

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For instance, Ganduje has supported the abusive, illegal and unconstitutional activities of the Islamic police, Hisbah in Kano. In the name of enforcing sharia law, Hisbah has harassed and molested non-Muslims. The Islamic police have seized and destroyed the goods of non-Muslim traders in Kano. When it comes to furthering Islam and defending the interests of Muslims, as he understood it, Ganduje has been forthcoming and active. Ganduje leaves no one in doubt that he is in charge in Kano State.

However, since April last year, Ganduje has maintained a deafening silence on Bala’s case. At a meeting with some European diplomats last year, the governor feigned ignorance of the case of Bala. Meanwhile, Bala had been in detention for months in his state. From all indications, Ganduje is responsible for the continued detention of Bala and the refusal by his government to comply with a Federal High Court order that had ordered the release of Bala. Ganduje did not need a court order to intervene in cases concerning Muslims in Rivers and Anambra states.

But in the case of Bala, a court judgment has been issued but the Kano authorities have refused to comply. The commissioner of police in Kano has disregarded the court order. He claims that Bala was no longer in their custody. The state police chief has made it seem as if the police were not responsible for Bala’s arrest. Also, the attorney general and commissioner for justice cannot get the state to comply with a federal high court ruling. Even if the police refuse to obey the court order, is it not the duty of the attorney general to ensure compliance? 

Now, if the commissioner of police and the attorney general could not enforce the court order, why can’t Ganduje step in and ensure that the court order is adhered to if he had no interest in the illegal detention of Bala?  The buck stops at the table of Ganduje. He should release Mubarak Bala now!

Leo Igwe.

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