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: February 13, 2013

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Imprisonment

Institution(s):Port Harcourt | Rivers State University of Science and Technology

Region & Country:Western Africa | Nigeria

New or Ongoing:Ongoing Incident

On February 13, 2013 members of the local chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) at Rivers State University of Science and Technology were detained by local police for holding a meeting on campus.
According to reports, ASUU members, who had been on strike for several months, had called the meeting to discuss their opposition to the re-appointment of a senior university official. Police reportedly arrived and took between 10 and 12 lecturers into custody. Members of the union allege that the lecturers were detained at the behest of a senior member of the university administration; however a police spokesperson reportedly stated that the lecturers were moved away from the campus for their own safety.  Several of the lecturers were allegedly beaten before they were taken away. Police held the lecturers for approximately five hours before releasing them. The lecturers were accused of holding a meeting without obtaining proper permission from university authorities. 
The disruption of ASUU’s meeting and subsequent detention of faculty follow another incident in August 2012, during which members of the academic union were prevented from organizing on campus.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about physical assaults on academic staff members and interference with their rights to organize and to express peacefully their views on university-related matters on campus. State and university authorities have a responsibility to protect staff from violence on campus and not to interfere with their organizing and expressive activity, so long as that activity is undertaken peacefully and responsibly.
UPDATE: This is an update to an earlier report. To view, please click here.