SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: February 01, 2021

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Abuja

Region & Country:Western Africa | Nigeria

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On February 1, 2021, military and/or police personnel used teargas to disperse peaceful student protesters as they demonstrated on the campus of the University of Abuja.

Starting at 9:00 am, the students of the University of Abuja staged a peaceful protest along the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Expressway and the main campus entrance, to voice their opposition to a reported 100% increase in tuition fees. Student protesters displayed placards with their demands, which included a review and reduction in school fees ahead of the next session and the postponement of the examination period, which is scheduled to begin on February 8. In response, military and/or police personnel reportedly launched teargas into the crowd of protesters; some sources also suggest authorities used batons to beat students.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of violent force against students in apparent retaliation for the nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nigeria is a party. State authorities have an obligation to refrain from restricting student-led protest activity, so long as it is nonviolent and responsible. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, police force intended to restrict student expression undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.