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: March 10, 2021

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):National Institute of Construction Technology

Region & Country:Western Africa | Nigeria

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On March 10, 2021, five gunmen stormed the National Institute of Construction Technology and kidnapped a student and a staff member.

According to local police, the gunmen appeared at the university and abducted a staff member, Uzoaku Onyemabi, and a student, Elizabeth Ayim. The gunmen allegedly emerged from a thick forest which surrounds the university’s campus.

On March 12, students gathered in protest to demand the release of the staff member and student and for increased security. Students held signs that read “We need max security,” and “No Elizabeth, no exams,” referring to the kidnapped student, Elizabeth.

The Nation reported that on March 16, the two victims had been rescued from the kidnappers after security forces found them in a forest and shot at the kidnappers, forcing them to flee.

The March 10 incident appears to fit a pattern of acts targeting schools and universities in Nigeria, where gunmen and “bandits” have raided campuses and kidnapped students, often seeking ransom. No one has been prosecuted since a wave of kidnappings began last year, according to Voice of America.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the abduction of a student and staff member of a higher education institution. State authorities have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of students, including by investigating and holding perpetrators of such acts responsible. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, abductions of members of the higher education community undermine academic freedom, the right to education, and institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.