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: May 13, 2017

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Maiduguri

Region & Country:Western Africa | Nigeria

New or Ongoing:Ongoing Incident

On May 13, 2017, three suicide bombers attacked the University of Maiduguri, killing themselves and a security guard, and injuring another.

Sources indicate that the attackers entered the campus at approximately 1:10 AM and attempted to make their way to the university’s department of works. When security guards reportedly stopped and questioned two of the attackers, they quickly detonated their explosives, killing themselves and one security guard, and injuring another. The third assailant reached a chapel on campus and detonated his vest; however, no further casualties were reported. The university was scheduled to host an admissions exam that morning, with approximately 4,000 students expected to attend. Media sources reported severely diminished attendance following the attacks.

As of this report, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. The university was the site of similar suicide attacks on January 16, 2017, in which four people were killed and 15 more were injured (see report). Soon after, a recording was released of a person purporting to be Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s leader, claiming responsibility for the attack on the group’s behalf.

Scholars at Risk condemns this extreme, targeted, violent attack on the higher education space and sends condolences to the victims, their families and the entire University of Maiduguri community. In addition to the terrible loss of life and injuries, such attacks target the core values of the university, including academic freedom, the free exchange of ideas, institutional autonomy, and social responsibility. State authorities have a responsibility to safeguard these values by taking all reasonable steps to ensure the security of higher education communities and their members, including a responsibility to deter future attacks by investigating incidents and making every effort to hold perpetrators accountable, consistent with internationally recognized standards. Members of society similarly have a responsibility to help safeguard the higher education space, especially following incidents of such gross violence, by pressing demands to State authorities for greater protection and accountability, and by contributing to efforts to understand and reinforce principles of autonomy and academic freedom.