The atheist had written an open letter to Mr Tinubu, seeking his intervention on the matter.
The Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, a professor, has said he is yet to submit a copy of the recently launched letter of appeal by Mubarak Bala, who is serving a 24-year prison sentence, to President Bola Tinubu.
Mr Bala, President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, was sentenced after he reportedly pleaded guilty to an 18-count charge of blasphemy levelled against him by the Kano State Government in 2022.
Before his sentence, Mr. Bala was held for two years without charges and with his whereabouts unknown to his family and lawyer. The development reportedly followed a petition by a group of Muslims to the authorities accusing him of posting uncomplimentary messages about Islam on social media. The atheist had then written an open letter to Mr. Tinubu, seeking his intervention on the matter.
At a forum in Lagos on 5 August Mr Soyinka pledged to personally deliver a signed copy of the appeal to the president. However, more than a week after the engagement in Lagos, friends and associates of Mr Bala have sought to know if the poet has been able to deliver the letter to the president.
But Mr Soyinka, in a short statement issued on Tuesday, said he was yet to meet with the President, even as he said the media misreported his position on the matter. He said: “I have been bombarded by both local and international human rights organisations, with inquiries about the outcome. “I regret to state that some media have completely misreported this, and I have yet to meet the current tenant of Aso Rock.”
Meanwhile, Mr Soyinka has urged the campaigners not to relent in their efforts to seek justice for Mr Bala, noting that his inability to deliver the letter yet, shouldn’t serve as a clog in their wheel.
He, therefore, called on Mr Bala’s well-wishers and those who he said participated in the launch of the document, “to continue and indeed intensify their efforts, to secure the release of this unjustly persecuted youth whose only crime was to insist on his freedom of thought and belief and its expression.”
“There should be no let-up until this symbol of our times is restored to full freedom and human dignity,” he said.
Earlier, at the launch of the letter, Mr Soyinka said Mr Bala raised some charges in his letter about how he was unfairly treated, which he said shouldn’t be kept under the carpet. He added that those indicted should be prosecuted and their licenses withdrawn, PM News reports.
Mr Soyinka was said to be referring to unidentified medical practitioners who he noted had allegedly attempted “to inject the young man with psychotropic drugs.”
He called on the Nigerian Medical Association, the umbrella body of medical doctors in the country, to investigate the matter.
“And let’s know whether they are going to retain their licenses after that. The security division has a responsibility to revisit this infamous jailbreak when some of the killers, the arsonists, and the kidnappers of Chibok girls and Dapchi girls miraculously blew down the wall and escaped,” he said.
Mr Soyinka also enjoined Nigerians not to lose track of Mr Bala and other prisoners of conscience. “Please don’t let us lose track of Mubarak now that we have found him. I appeal to all the human rights organisations, and all the pressure groups to look out for the other Mubarak Balas who are imprisoned, isolated, dehumanised, tortured, driven out,” he was quoted to have said.