Aj. Dagga Tolar

The contradictions of the Nigerian state and the ruling elites have been made more manifest by the recent sentencing of Mubarak Bala, who is the President of the Nigerian Humanist Association, to 24 years in prison by a Kano State High Court for conviction on “blasphemy” 18 counts charges under Sections 210 and 114 of the Kano State Penal Code.

Detained for the past two years following his arrest from his home in Kaduna in April 2020 following a petition by some lawyers in Kano State Police Commissioner over his Facebook postings expressing his atheistic views. Is this a joke? Pronto the police moved into action from Kano they contacted the Kaduna Police Command, had him arrested in his home and was transferred to Kano, where he has been detained and now finally sentenced.

The MSA completely rejects this sentencing and maintains that the Nigeria state and indeed all who have been involved in this spurious prosecution and attempt to bridge the fundamental right of expression and right to worship, which in itself includes the right of refusal to believe in the existence of a supernatural being, violate the Nigerian constitution, which defines Nigeria as a secular state.

Extremely more painful is that agents of federal institutions like the police have been involved in this violation of the Nigerian constitution. We call for the immediate release of Mubarak Bala and enjoin that he be paid all the necessary compensation for this illegality that has been imposed on him, and his family.

You wonder what federalism is, and how it is here interpreted, if under a subject like religion that the constitution has spoken on, declaring the country a secular state, whether any judge in any part can now so discard that, an act based on state legislation, does this not in reality annuls the existence of the country.
The question of concurrent list does not now mean that the state legislation when in conflict with that of the federal on the same subject can in any sense supersede that of the federal legislation.

This is basic A, B, C, that you would expect any judge worthy of the unions of that name and office should know and act upon, even when the prosecution displays all ignorance of this understanding, the judge must bring this to the attention of the court and by so doing the dismiss the case, for no judge should be found pronouncing anyone guilty, let alone sentenced to 24 years in prison for an offence that the country constitution categories as otherwise. Yes even when the “accuse” pleads guilty, a consequence of threats both directly and directly to Mubarak Bala and his family if he openly in court says otherwise. The judge must be seen to at all times siding and defending the constitution.

Or is that the penal code is superior to the constitution of the country, to be a citizen or resident in Kaduna or Kano or any part of the North annuls one’s citizenship of Nigeria. Kano state owes Mubarak Bala, an APOLOGY for obvious error and the necessary compensation by the state for his unlawful arrest detention for over two years. And the error of a trial and sentenced to 24 years imprisonment
The MSA calls for his immediate release, and the necessary protection provided for him and his family to prevent him from being attacked by overzealous believers.

The point must be made that the right to worship cannot be exclusively interpreted to mean the right to believe in a supernatural, or adherent to a Christian faith or an Islamic faith. Interestingly as Africans we blasphemy against the African based traditional forms of worship. We deride them without having to face any prosecution, why then must anyone be prosecuted if he or she so chooses to exercise the same freedom against an Arabian or European or originated religion.

While Socialists full understand the role of religion in society, as clearly serves as opium to suspend the working masses from the reality of their conditions, and at the same time provides a false consciousness of why things are wrong. It continues to support the right and freedom of worship bearing in mind that only material reality will ultimately help a majority of the working masses to change their belief in a supernatural entity as a causal factor of history. But in so doing, Socialists however the right of all those who can validly conclude scientifically that religious belief is illusionary and that God is not a factor of history that can be held accountable for the state of affairs of the human society.

Socialists insist that it is the class nature of society that in reality orders our existence, how the economy is managed, and who owns the wealth and resources of society all combined to determine the standard of living of the working masses. Capitalism more than any other factor is what has made possible superabundant wealth and affluence for a few and misery for the majority of the ruling class and working class respectively.

Lenin makes this point clearly when he states that “Religion is one of the forms of spiritual oppression, which everywhere weighs down heavily upon the masses of the people, over-burdened by their perpetual work for others, by want and isolation. Impotence, of the exploited classes in their struggle against the exploiters, just as inevitably, gives rise to the belief in a better life after death, as [the] impotence of the savage in his battle with nature gives rise to belief in gods, devils, miracles, and the like.

Those who toil and live in want all their lives are taught, by religion, to be submissive and patient while here on earth, and to take comfort in the hope of a heavenly reward. But those who live by the labour of others are taught, by religion, to practice charity while on earth, thus offering them a very cheap way of justifying their entire existence as exploiters, and selling them, at a moderate price, tickets to well-being in heaven. Religion is opium for the people. Religion is a sort of spiritual booze, in which the slaves of capital drown their human image, their demand for a life more or less worthy of man.”

Fela Anikulapo Kuti brings this same point home in his lyrics of “suffering and smiling” when he sings “suffer for world/enjoy for heaven”. This understanding of religion and its use as an instrument in the hands of the ruling class against the working masses is why Socialist adopt a dialectic approach to religion and place all emphasis on the class struggle, and the unity of the working masses, knowing very well that only a transformed material reality can, in the long run, bring an end to the illusions that religion constitutes, for like Marx also states “to call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions.

Scientific Socialism in itself embraces an atheistic world view, but not all socialists are fully rounded atheists, but even at that they would place focus on the condition of poverty and misery that capitalism condemns the working masses, placing a premium on organizing within the ranks of the working masses to break away from the grip of the ruling class philosophy and divisive ideas, take their destiny in their own hands and come on the arena of struggle on to the road of revolution. FREE MUBARAK BALA NOW! THE RIGHT TO WORSHIP INCLUDES THE RIGHT AND FREEDOM TO NOT BELIEVE IN ANY RELIGION!