Bala Mubarak and the Rise of Nigerian State Bonapartism


Statement of the Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard [RCIT Nigeria], 24 July 2020,




It almost makes sense to conclude that the discord in the internal politics of prominent administrations is what has plunged the world into crises. It is a known fact that the present cold war between the Republican and Democratic Party in the US is almost unparalleled in the history of the country. The situation is no different in Nigeria, the ruling caucus cannot seem to pull itself out of the quadrangle of unending internal conflicts, at the same time the civic mistrust and discontent is on the rise, the economic recession is spiraling out of control with bleak prospects for the future coupled with spontaneous outbreaks of strikes and anti-government remonstrances. Even divisions of the state apparatus have began to surface, for no sooner did Lance Corporal Martins release his criticism of the Chief of Army Staff did the news of resignation of 356 officers in the Army spread like wild fire.[1] The power elite in Nigeria draws one step closer to doomsday every passing day. It is in the context of this vulnerability of the state can the unjust arrest and incarceration of Bala Mubarak for more than 50 days be understood.


Bala Mubarak, the president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria was arrested at his home in Kaduna, Northern Nigeria on 28 April 2020 in response to a petition filed with the Police Commissioner of Kano Command on 27 April by S. S. Umar & Co. in which Bala was alleged to have insulted the Prophet Muhammad in his Facebook posts.[2] At the peculiar lock down phase when Mubarak was incarcerated several other voices of dissent suffered a similar fate. To mention but one example, Rotimi Jolayemi, and his wife were both arrested and detained for weeks because of a poem published by Mr Jolayemi which was critical of the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed.[3]


It is particularly interesting that his arrest was based on the Cybercrimes Act of 2015 which we have once categorized as part of the mechanisms to gag freedom of expression of radical voices critical of the Nigerian ruling elite.[4] Thus although the arrest of Bala Mubarak was masked in a religious covering, it was allowed by the powers that be or carried out in order to fast track an enabling environment for a state bonapartist agenda. All of these are symptoms of a seriously ailing Nigerian cum global capitalism. We have cited this development in one of our articles in the past;


For us in the Vanguard, all these developments are the display of a frantic attempt by the Nigerian bourgeois ruling class to stabilize an already collapsed political order. The Nigerian ruling elite is entering its most vulnerable state, hence it must launch all artillery in its weaponry to forestall the prevalence of radical and revolutionary tendencies. However, at any rate, all these attacks can only promote chaos in the system and enhance the reawakening of the masses to their class role of dashing the capitalist system through a popular revolution. According to a publication; “A Downward Spiral” by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)


At least 36 Nigerian journalists were attacked between January and July 2019, with 30 of the attacks recorded during the 2019 general elections……. The attacks on the press during the elections included: illegal arrests and detention; harassment; physical attacks; denial of access; death of a journalist covering the elections in Delta State. The platform noted that the attacks were perpetrated by both thugs and state actors and were recorded mostly in the south-south, south-east, and north central part of the country……., “During this period, 44 other broadcast stations were sanctioned such as the Jay 101.5 FM, based in Jos, which was shut down for what the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) described as ‘inciting broadcast’ in a letter it sent to the station on March 2. In 2018, over 21 attacks were recorded with seven unlawful arrests, which include the arrest of PREMIUM TIMES’ reporters, Samuel Ogundipe and Azeezat Adedigba, by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) on the order of the Inspector-General of Police. In 2017, PAT recorded 16 attacks and 3 deaths including the gruesome murder of Famous Giobaro of Bayelsa radio station, Glory FM 97.1, who was shot dead on April 16 [5]


We will not repeat our extensive exposition on this matter which made mention of dictatorial schemes like Operation Positive Identity (OPI), hate speech bill and social media bill, as we did before,[6] we wish rather to point out concrete symptoms of ruling class divides which is a feature of the new stage of decline that opened up with the 2008 economic meltdown. One of these concrete symptoms is Amotekun.


Granted, at the creation of the South Western Security Network (Amotekun) there were prospects for it to be democratized and greatly dominated by the masses and workers despite been the brainchild of the South Western governors. The deteriorating security situation in the nation especially the increasing encroachment of terrorism and kidnappings on the South Western region inspired mass support for the constitution of an alternate security network besides the Federal state apparatus, such that when the Federal government opposed its creation there were mass protests on the streets.[7] Although the motive of the South Western governors was far from that of the people since they as leaders and representatives of a faction of the Nigerian capitalists only intended to prepare forces for a foreseen showdown with a different faction especially from the Northern part of the country.


Amotekun was the past indication of the now heightened internal conflict of the Nigerian ruling class which is bound to continue as the crises in global capitalism intensifies. We note in passing that Amotekun presently does not hold the same status as at the time of inception as it now stands more as the tool for ruling class in-fighting rather than a mass dominated fighting force. The only way to submit Amotekun to the will of the masses remains the formation of workers and mass controlled self-defense committees.


Another mobilization of political forces amidst opposing parties of the ruling class commensurate with Amotekun is on-going towards the Edo state elections in September. The Edo state elections have such significance as to determine the sway of public opinion concerning the political strength of the two arch-reactionary parties in Nigeria—the All Progressives Congress (APC) & the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The future of the increasingly acute rivalry between both parties is largely dependent on the elections, at the same time the gubernatorial elections of Edo state will prove more and more the similitude of these two parties to fight over the spoils of their age-long war on the Nigerian people.


It is historically proven that the combination of ruling class in-fighting; economic attacks and a turn towards dictatorial methods of rule are features of a decaying system, only now this decay has led to a rise in state bonapartism with the advent of COVID-19. COVID-19 itself is a feature of a global decay in this system, thus all those who prioritize its effects in an isolated manner not regarding the interconnected realities that led to its emergence will continue to go from one pitfall to the other. It was such pitfalls that enabled the criminal arrest and undisclosed prolonged incarceration of Bala Mubarak.


Naturally, we hold certain profound reservations concerning the atheist/humanist circle to which Bala Mubarak belongs. While we admit that religion is an institution that majorly corrupts and stagnates mass consciousness or wields public opinion towards conservative and backward sustenance of the capitalist system. We think that any criticism or struggle against religion isolated from its economic and political enablers remains counter-productive as it will only lead to squabbles and quarrels that have no qualitative effect on progressive change in the society. Only those criticism/struggle against religion that have coefficients as practical steps for changing the political and economic system are complete. Besides this, is a camp of mere ultra-radicals and anarchists. It is this same flaw that is responsible for the pacifist and lukewarm approach of online petitions that these Humanist/Atheist associations have taken instead of a radical approach of popular struggle.


We say that these differences do not prevent us from demanding the immediate and unconditional release of the Bala Mubarak. We think that the question of religion and the society is one which must be treated with caution yet we distance ourselves from those comrades that refuse to launch a mass campaign for the release of Bala Mubarak or worse still, take a position on the matter because of the “sensitivity” of his case.


Freedom for Bala Mubarak and other victims of political persecution is impossible without full democratic rights to hold mass gatherings and demonstrations. Only a political atmosphere that allows for the expression of the highest democratic rights can change the objective conditions of health and the economy in favour of the masses.


The doctors association in different parts of the country have already abandoned the “sit and look” method of the many “left wing” groups and trade union bureaucracies by launching strikes for better working conditions; better pay; and the expansion of the health sector in line with their progressive counter-parts in the US, Mali, Serbia, Hong Kong and other parts of the world.[8] Revolutionaries must follow this trailblazing example!


Free Bala Mubarak NOW!














[6] see [5] above