On May 24, 2019, authorities reportedly fired teargas and shots into the air during a student protest at Caleb University following the alleged suspension of students for violating a new university policy.
In early May, university authorities released a policy prohibiting all students from interacting with students of the opposite sex between 7pm and 8am. After university authorities suspended some students for “gross misconduct” in violation of these rules, students held a protest on campus. Sources indicate that university management called the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) in response, and NPF officers fired tear gas canisters and gunshots in the air to disperse the students. Some students reportedly sustained injuries during the interaction.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of force in an apparent attempt to restrict students’ nonviolent exercise of the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly on campus — conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nigeria is a party. While state authorities have a right to maintain security and order, they must do so in ways that minimize the risk of injury or harm to individuals and do not restrict the nonviolent expressive activity. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the use of force to restrict student expression undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.