On April 25, 2019, police reportedly arrested and used violence against students at the Adekunle Ajasin University (AAUA) and nearby university hostels in response to a student protest.
On the day before the incident, a large group of students had reportedly gathered on campus to protest the implementation of a new university policy that prevented students who had not paid school fees from taking mandatory exams. The protest reportedly disrupted campus activities, including examinations. Later that day, university administrators, reportedly fearing even greater unrest, declared a “mid-semester break,” ordering all students to vacate campus immediately. Studies were scheduled to resume on May 20.
The following day, police in armored vehicles were reportedly stationed in front of the university’s entrance to prevent students from entering. A small group of students who had assembled outside the campus gates, apparently intending to enter the university to continue protesting, were reportedly arrested and later taken to a local police station. Police brandishing weapons also reportedly raided private student hostels located off campus, and beat, arrested, and fired tear gas at an unknown number of students.
Later that day, the governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, ordered the immediate release of all students arrested in the AAUA protests.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of violent force and detentions, against students in retaliation for their peaceful exercise of rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — conduct which is explicitly protected under international human rights law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nigeria is a party. Such incidents undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.