On July 25, 2019, police fired tear gas on Osun State University (OSU) students protesting the arrest of at least fifteen students accused of internet fraud.
On the morning of July 25, armed security operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) reportedly raided private, off-campus hostels and arrested at least fifteen OSU students as well as some non-students. The authorities allege that the students engaged in internet fraud and phishing activities. Reports indicate that authorities also arrested a university employee who was recording the raid. The arrested students were later released on bail and are expected to appear in court on October 2, 2019.
In response to the arrests, OSU students protested by blocking a major road near campus with a bonfire and chanting slogans. The protest reportedly paralyzed commercial activities and prevented vehicles from passing for over an hour. At least one report indicates that some protesting students were armed with clubs. Osun State Police Command officers reportedly fired teargas to disperse the protesting students and cleared the road.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence during a student protest. While state authorities have a responsibility to ensure security and order, they should also ensure that their response is proportional to the situation. Likewise, while students and other groups have a right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they must exercise these rights peacefully and responsibly. Violence during a student protest endangers the higher education community and undermines academic freedom and institutional autonomy.