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Court orders police to release Facebook user detained for alleged blasphemy

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Murder suspect arrested after five months on the run

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday ordered the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu to release a Facebook user, Mubarak Bala, who was detained for alleged blasphemy.

Bala was arrested in Kaduna on February 28 for allegedly making blasphemy post about Islam and spent 11 months in detention at the Gbabasawa Police Station in Kaduna State.

He was detained at the station on the instruction of Kano State Police Command.

One of his lawyers, Ibrahim Buba, said his client was arrested over a petition written by some Kano-based persons, alleging that he insulted Prophet Mohammed.

Buba, who confirmed from the Kano State Commissioner of Police that the applicant was in his custody, visited the command headquarters on May 4 but was stopped from seeing the commissioner.

Read also: Rights group condemns death sentence on Kano musician accused of blasphemy

In the fundamental rights enforcement suit filed at the court, the IGP, the Nigeria Police Force and the Attorney-General of the Federation were listed as respondents.

However, in his ruling on Monday, Justice Ekwo declared Bala’s arrest and detention by the police as an infraction of his rights to personal liberty, fair hearing, freedom of thought, expression, and movement.

He said: “The denial of the applicant access to his lawyers constitutes a gross infringement of his right to a legal representative of his choice under section 34 and 35(2) of the 1999 Constitution.”

He ordered the police to release the applicant from detention immediately.

The judge also ordered the police to pay the sum of N250,000 as general and exemplary damages to the applicant.

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