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 20, 2021

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Greenfield University

Region & Country:Western Africa | Nigeria

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 20, 2021, gunmen raided Greenfield University, kidnapping as many as twenty students and killing one university employee.

Police in Kaduna State, where the university is located, announced that an attack took place on the campus on Tuesday evening at approximately 8:35 PM local time. Reportedly, the unidentified gunmen infiltrated the university and began shooting sporadically. By the time security forces secured the campus, university officials determined that at least twenty students were missing following the raid. Kaduna state police confirmed that at least one university staff member had been killed. 

The April 20 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 a violent raid on a higher education institution, the killing of a staff member, and the abduction of students. SAR further offers condolences to the family and colleagues of the deceased staff member as well as the families of students who have been abducted. 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, such incidents undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.

UPDATE: On April 23, 2021, it was reported that three of the students abducted on April 20 were killed. Their bodies were reportedly found in a village close to the university. The status of the remaining students is unavailable as of this writing.

UPDATE: On April 26, 2021, it was reported that two more of the students abducted on April 20 were killed and their bodies found. The status of the remaining students is unavailable as of this writing.

UPDATE: On May 29, 2021, Simeon Nwakacha, pro-chancellor of Greenfield University, reported that the remaining 14 students in custody had been released. It remains unclear whether the students were released in exchange for ransom.