On August 13, 2018, Nigerian Police force reportedly clashed violently with peaceful student protesters from Kwara State College of Education, Ilorin. Police further arrested five students who allegedly organized the protest.
The protest was in response to a boycott led by lecturers at the college whose salaries were allegedly withheld over several months. As a result of the boycott, students at the college were unable to finish their final exams.
According to media sources, students participating in the protest carried posters with information on the faculty strike, sang songs, and demanded that the Kwara State Government pay their professors. The students reportedly left the college campus and peacefully marched towards the Government House Grounds in Ilorin to voice their demands to the Governor and attempt to find a solution. The Department of State Security reportedly accompanied the students during their march. En route, however, riot police intercepted the students and reportedly fired teargas at and clashed with the students as well as civilian bystanders. Police ultimately arrested five students who allegedly organized the protest. As of this report, the status of the arrested student protesters, including whether they have been officially charged or released, remains unknown.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violent force by police and arrests of students in connection with a peaceful protest — conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nigeria is a party. State authorities have a responsibility to refrain from restricting or retaliating against peaceful student expression, and to ensure the security of higher education communities. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and institutional autonomy