SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: December 08, 2012

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Calabar

Region & Country:Western Africa | Nigeria

New or Ongoing:New Incident

Professor Felix Akpan, an Associate Professor at the University of Calabar, was shot by unidentified armed men over the weekend of December 8. Professor Akpan, who is also the Head of the Department of Public Administration, was meeting with officials of a commercial bank to discuss the terms for a loan being sought by the university to fund a hydro-power project. The assailants allegedly aimed gunfire at Professor Akpan’s head, but shot him in the arm. A private guard who attempted to prevent the assailants from escaping was shot dead.
According to reports, it is widely believed that Professor Akpan was attacked in retaliation for his administrative activities, particularly with regard to enforcing university policies on school fees. A senior member of the academic staff union confirmed the incident but insisted that the motivation for the attack remains a matter of speculation. However, he confirmed that Professor Akpan was generally known to have offended certain interests in his efforts as Head of the Department of Public Administration.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about a violent attack against a higher education staff member.  Beyond the direct victim, such attacks can have negative impacts on the higher education community generally by creating a climate of intimidation that erodes academc freedom and impedes higher education functions. This is especially true where there are allegations that the attack may have been in retaliation for the victim’s carrying out his administrative responsibilities.  State and university authorities have a responsibility to protect higher education staff in the performance of their duties and to work to prevent future attacks, including by holding perpetrators accountable.