On July 6, 2017, two unidentified individuals attempted to bomb a dormitory at the University of Maiduguri, in Nigeria. This was the sixth reported attack on the university since January 2017.
Sources indicate that the attackers arrived at the perimeter of campus after nightfall. Security forces, which had been increased due to recent attacks, quickly spotted and fired on the attackers. One of the attackers was shot dead, while the second detonated his explosive device, killing himself. There were no students on campus at the time of the attack, as the university was on holiday.
As of this report, the identity of the attackers is unknown; however, some media reports suggest that the attack, among others at the University of Maiduguri, was coordinated by the terrorist group Boko Haram. SAR has reported similar attacks on the university on January 16, May 13, May 18, May 20 and June 25. One day before this most recent attack, the Nigerian government ordered the deployment of additional security forces and suggested that the university be temporarily closed due to the attacks.
Scholars at Risk condemns this extreme, targeted, violent attack on the higher education space. Such attacks target the core values of the university, including academic freedom, the free exchange of ideas, institutional autonomy, and social responsibility. Scholars at Risk likewise acknowledges the Nigerian government’s efforts to increase security at the university in response to previous attacks. State authorities have a responsibility to safeguard university values by taking all reasonable steps to ensure the security of higher education communities and their members, including deterring 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.