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 18, 2017

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Maiduguri

Region & Country:Western Africa | Nigeria

New or Ongoing:Ongoing Incident

On May 18, 2017, three unidentified suicide bombers attacked the University of Maiduguri, killing themselves and injuring three others. This was the second reported attack on the university in one week.

At approximately 11:50 pm, the attackers arrived on campus and attempted to enter a female residence hall. When security guards patrolling campus confronted them, one of the attackers quickly detonated his explosives while the other two fled to a construction site on campus, where they then detonated their explosives. Three security guards were reportedly injured in the attack.

No group has reportedly claimed responsibility for this attack, which comes less than a week after a similar attack on the same university, on May 13 (see report). In addition, on January 13, four people were killed and 15 more were injured in another suicide attack, also on the campus of the University of Maiduguri (see report). A person purporting to be Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s leader, released a recording in which he claimed responsibility for that attack on the group’s behalf.

Scholars at Risk condemns this extreme, targeted, violent attack on the higher education space. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, 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.