Mubarak Bala (pictured), the 29-year-old Nigerian man who was held in a mental institution for saying he didn’t believe in God, has reportedly been freed and says he’ll reconcile with his family. Bala was reportedly freed from the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, while doctors were on strike at the facility.
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According to BBC News, Bala was freed last Tuesday, but the news was kept secret as activists secured him in an unknown location. According to the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) group, which has been lobbying for Bala’s freedom, he was held against his will at the hospital for 18 days.
BBC News reports:
“There are still deep concerns for Mubarak’s safety in a part of the country where accusations of ‘apostasy’ can be deadly,” the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) said in a statement.
The man’s family is reported to have had him committed to the hospital because [they] feared for his safety after he publicly stated his atheism.
In a statement released on Friday, Mr. Bala said he was now staying with some of his family, had been assured of his safety, and wanted to put things behind him “for the sake of reconciliation.”
“I have realised that my matter is a family one, which requires family resolution…all misgivings and misunderstanding within my family has been resolved,” the statement said.
Bala’s family lives in northern Kano state, which has adopted strict Islamic laws. Any non-believers are typically subject to a variety of punishment and threats.
Via his lawyer, Muhammad Bello Shehu, Bala told the BBC that his statement did not regard faith but words he said toward his father. Bala initially accused his father of being an Islamic leader and stated he “could not afford” to have any of his children claiming to be non-Muslim.
Shehu says no further legal action will be taken but did add Bala wanted another doctor to put on record in an evaluation that he was not suffering from a mental illness.