On September 10, 2019, police clashed with and opened fire on student protesters, killing two students and injuring two others.
Sources indicate that a large group of students from the Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE) were in the street protesting power supply issues that affected their campus. When protesters learned that a motorcade transporting the governor’s wife, Bisi Fayemi, was passing nearby, they demonstrated outside her vehicle.
During their protest, police detained several students and assaulted at least one student. It is unclear what exactly prompted their response, though several sources suggest that some of the protesters attempted to vandalize the motorcade transporting Fayemi. Clashes quickly broke out between the two sides and police reportedly opened fire, striking an unknown number of protesters. Two FUOYE students — Oluwaseyi Kehinde and Okonofua Joseph — were shot and killed. At least two more students were hospitalized for wounds suffered during the protest.
Immediately following the incident, FUOYE officials closed the campus indefinitely. On October 31, university officials announced that the campus would reopen on November 11.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of lethal force during a student protest. While state authorities have a responsibility to maintain order and security, they also have an obligation to ensure that their actions are proportionate to the situation, do not endanger protesters, and are not undertaken to restrict nonviolent expressive activity. Students likewise have a responsibility to carry out expressive activities peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the use of violent force during protests undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.