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: April 09, 2021

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Akwa Ibom State University

Region & Country:Western Africa | Nigeria

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 9, 2021, Akwa Ibom State University (AKSU) expelled a student in apparent retaliation for his public criticism against the university administration. 

On September 7, 2020, AKSU reportedly suspended Ekpo Iniobong Isang, a student of Agricultural Engineering for “gross misconduct.” The suspension reportedly stemmed from an alleged Facebook post in which Isang criticized Governor Udom Emmanuel for failing to fulfill his promise to provide employment opportunities for AKSU graduates and provide each graduate with 100,000 Nigerian Naira (about $244 USD). 

On April 9, 2021, the university issued a letter to Isang notifying him of his expulsion. The university described Isang’s Facebook post as “derogatory,” “defamatory,” and a “breach of the Matriculation Oath.” 

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the expulsion of a student in apparent retaliation for the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression—conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nigeria is a party. University authorities should refrain from retaliating against expressive activity, so long as it is undertaken peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, expulsions aimed at restricting or retaliating against such activity undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.