At least one student was killed during a student protest at the University of Uyo on June 12, 2013. Students embarked on a protest in response to increases in university transport fare.
According to reports, the initially peaceful protest turned violent after police used tear gas and allegedly fired live ammunitions at the protesters. One student, Kingsley Umoette, was confirmed dead. Students told media that police had shot Umoette. Police denied the shooting and stated that protesters had brought the student’s body to them outside the campus. According to police officials, officers did not enter the campus during the protest as they were not authorized to do so.
Following the killing, students set ablaze the Vice Chancellor’s Office, the Deputy Vice Chancellor’s Office, and the Examinations and Records Offices. It was reported that equipment in several academic buildings and a number of university vehicles were also destroyed. Forty-five students were arrested and at the time of reporting forty-four have been charged with arson and murder. Following the incident, the university closed down and was subsequently reopened on June 24, 2013.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about allegations of violence on campus, and especially the killing of students. While students and other members of higher education communities have the right to engage in expressive activity, they have a responsibility to exercise that right peacefully and in a matter consistent with the values of the university space, including social responsibility. State and university authorities have a responsibility to protect students engaged in such peaceful activity, and to ensure the perpetrators of violent attacks are held accountable. When state and university authorities are required to intervene in student protests to maintain order or security, they have a responsibility to do so in a way that respects institutional autonomy, academic freedom and human rights.