Nigeria 'atheist freed by hospital'

ABUJA - A Nigerian man detained in a hospital psychiatric ward because he did not believe in God has been freed, a humanist charity has said.

Mubarak Bala was released because of a doctors' strike which has seen many patients discharged, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) said.

He was held against his will for 18 days after his Muslim family committed him to the hospital in Kano, it said.

Northern Nigeria is mainly Muslim and adopted Islamic law in 2000.

The IHEU said Mr Bala, a chemical engineering graduate, was freed on Tuesday but news of his release was not made public until he was in a secure location.

"There are still deep concerns for Mubarak's safety in a part of the country where accusations of 'apostasy' can be deadly," the charity said in a statement.

After the 29-year-old was admitted to a psychiatric ward at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, he sought help from the hospital via email and social media, until his phone was confiscated, according to IHEU.

Mr Bala, who was medicated during his stay, said he had no desire to take further legal action and thanked those who had campaigned for his release, the statement said.

"To those who have made threats against me, I urge you to reason and learn to tolerate opinions other than yours," he is quoted as saying by the charity.

When Mr Bala was first detained IHEU said his family had asked a doctor if he was mentally ill because he had told relatives that he was an atheist.

Despite being told that he was not unwell, Mr Bala's family then went to a second doctor, who declared that his atheism was a side-effect of suffering a personality change, the group said.

Comments (1)


allen masomere - 6 July 2014

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