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Irreligion in Nigeria

Irreligion in Nigeria is measured at less than one percent of the population.[1] As in many parts of Africa, there is a great amount of stigma attached to being an atheist.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9]

A 2010 poll by Pew Research Center showed that 51% of Nigerian Muslims agree with the death penalty for leaving Islam.[10] In some parts of Nigeria, there are even anti-blasphemy laws.[11]

In 2017 the Humanist Association of Nigeria gained formal government recognition after a 17 year struggle.[12] This was followed by recognition of the Atheist Society of Nigeria, the Northern Nigerian Humanist Association and the Nigerian Secular Society.[13]

Case of Mubarak BalaEdit

Mubarak Bala, a Nigerian atheist, who was born in Kano State, Northern Nigeria in the mid 80s,[14] was forcibly committed to a psychiatric institution in Kano for eighteen days in 2014, where he was forcibly drugged. One doctor suggested there was nothing wrong with Bala but a second doctor suggested a personality disorder and, according to Bala, told him:

"My dear, you need a God, even in Japan, they have a God, no one should live without God, those that do, are all psychologically ill, denying the biblical account of Adam and Eve is delusion, denial of history.."[15]

The International Humanist and Ethical Union has taken up the case and feels Bala's Human rights were violated.[16][15] According to the IHEU, "The real reason for this outrageous and inhumane action is because Mubarak has renounced Islam and has openly declared himself to be an atheist." [17] On 4 July 2014, the BBC reported that Bala had been released from hospital in conjunction with a doctors' strike, and was seeking reconciliation with his family. It was not yet clear if he would remain in Northern Nigeria, due to death threats.[18]

List of Non-Religious NigeriansEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism" (PDF). Gallup. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 May 2013. Retrieved 2012-07-25.
  2. ^ Igwe, Leo (13 September 2012). "Atheism in Nigeria". Sahara Reporters. Retrieved 2013-07-25.
  3. ^ "No country for Nigerian 'unbelievers'". The Punch. Archived from the original on December 17, 2013. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
  4. ^ Buari, Jasmine (23 August 2016). "Do you know the pain of being an atheist in Nigeria? – Unbelievers cry out". Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  5. ^ Igwe, Leo. "Atheism in Nigeria: Challenges and Opportunities - Modern Ghana". Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  6. ^ "What if Zuckerberg were a Nigerian atheist?". Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  7. ^ "Nigeria Must Remain Neutral When It Comes To Religion". Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  8. ^ "Is it harder to "come out" as an atheist if you're black?". Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  9. ^ "TRUE Africa - How social media is helping atheists survive in one of the most religious places on earth". 13 April 2016. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  10. ^ "Muslim Publics Divided on Hamas and Hezbollah" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 December 2010. Retrieved 2013-09-28.
  11. ^ "Laws Penalizing Blasphemy, Apostasy and Defamation of Religion are Widespread | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project". 2012-11-21. Retrieved 2013-09-28.
  12. ^ "Humanist Association of Nigeria achieves formal recognition after 17-year campaign". Humanists International. 11 December 2017. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  13. ^ Oduah, Chika (18 September 2018). "Nigeria's undercover atheists: In their words". Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  14. ^ "Mubarak Bala answers questions on his atheism in Nigeria". 18 December 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2018 – via
  15. ^ a b "Nigerian man detained in mental institute in Kano 'because he renounced Islam'". 25 June 2014. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  16. ^ "Nigeria atheist Bala 'deemed mentally ill' in Kano state". 25 June 2014. Retrieved 10 July 2017 – via
  17. ^ "Nigerian atheist forced into mental hospital for rejecting Islam". Nigeria Sun. Archived from the original on 24 July 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  18. ^ "Nigeria atheist Bala freed from Kano psychiatric hospital". BBC News. 2014-07-04. Retrieved 2014-07-04.