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Nigerian ‘atheist with a cause’ bags 24 years in prison for blasphemy

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A Nigerian free thinker who calls himself ‘atheist with a cause,’ Mubarak Bala, has been sentenced to 24 years in prison by a High Court in Kano State after he pleading guilty to18 charges of blasphemy.

Born in Kano, a predominantly Muslim state in northern Nigeria, Bala got into trouble in 2020 when he made a Facebook post criticizing Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, an act the Muslims considered blasphemous and often carries a death sentence in Nigeria’s mostly Muslim society where Sharia laws are practiced.

The post which made in Hausa language literally questioned the existence of Allah and asked why the people were suffering if God existed.

The offending Facebook post by Mubarak Bala

A few days after the post, Bala, who is the president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, an association of atheist and free thinkers in 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 been in detention since then without charges brought against him, according to his wife, Amina.

Despite several campaigns for his release by the group and other activists, Bala was charged to court on Tuesday, where the presiding judge, Justice Farouk Lawan, found him guilty and sent him to jail.

When the charges were read to him, he pleaded guilty to all the charges and accepted responsibility for the Facebook post he made.

Even when his lawyer, James Ibor, tried to persuade Bala to change his plea to not guilty, he insisted that he was guilty to charges and ready to face the consequences.

Bala has had several run-ins with his family when he publicly renounced his Islamic faith in 2014, an act the family said was forbidden and had brought dishonor and shame to the family, and punishable by death in accordance with Sharia laws.

He was forcibly admitted to a psychiatric hospital with the family believing he had run mad by denouncing his religion.

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Somali forces, local vigilantes, recapture strategic town from Al-Shabaab terrorists

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The Somali National Army (SNA), alongside local vigilantes popularly called Mo’awisley, on Monday, recaptured the strategic city of Adan Yabaal from the al-Shabaab terrorist group, the military said in a bulletin on Tuesday.

According to the statement, the town located near the border between Hiran and Middle Shabelle regions that comprise Hirshabelle State, which is about 220 kilometres north of the capital Mogadishu, is one of the five federal member states of the Federal Government of Somalia, and had been a strategic location held by the al-Qaeda-sponsored extremist group.

The SNA said in the bulletin that it met no resistance from the al-Shabaab fighters who left the town without posing resistance on getting information about the approach of the federal troops.

Al-Shabaab have lost most of the towns and settlements in Hirshabelle State, both Hiran and Middle Shabelle regions, after the SNA and Mo’awisley vigilantes waged offensive wars.

“Mo’awisley vigilantes, who are mainly composed of nomadic herders, took up arms and rebelled against the jihadists’ confiscation of their livestock and illegal tax collection known as zakawaat.

“Over the last couple of weeks, the government forces and the vigilantes have been gradually inching towards the town which they seized on Monday. The town had been under the full control of al-Shabaab for over a decade,” the bulletin said.

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Tanzania President, Samia Hassan, cancels country’s Independence Day celebrations: Here’s why

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Tanzania’s President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has cancelled the country’s Independence Day celebrations which was scheduled for Friday, December 9, and has rather directed that the funds that would have been sunk into the celebration should be used to build dormitories for children with special needs.

The organisers of Tanzania’s 61st Independence Day celebrations had presented a budget of $445,000 to the government but the President vehemently opposed the budget and ordered that the money should be used to build dormitories in primary schools around the country.

However, Tanzania’s Minister of State, George Simbachawene, said the money had been disbursed, alluding that the East African country will celebrate Independence Day by having public dialogues on development marked with pomp and state banquets.

This is not the first time Tanzania has cancelled the celebrations.

In 2015, late President John Magufuli cancelled the celebrations and diverted funds towards the building of a road in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.

In 2020, he also cancelled the celebrations and directed that the budget earmarked for it should be used to buy medical facilities.

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