On June 28, 2021, state security forces clashed with Kaduna State College of Education (CoE) students protesting against school tuition fee increases. Two students were reportedly struck by stray bullets from security forces and died from their injuries.
On April 26, 2021, the Kaduna state government announced that it was increasing tuition fees in all of its tertiary institutions, including the CoE. Shehu Makarfi, the State Commissioner for Education, said the fee increases were necessary to improve Nigeria’s standing in certain high-demand research fields. The decision spurred protests of students demanding the government revoke the tuition increase in light of the economic struggles faced by families amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to reports, on June 28, students gathered near the college to protest the tuition fee increase. Some sources reported that students blocked a nearby highway as part of the protest. Police and other security forces, which reportedly included military forces, were deployed to disperse the protesters. At one point, clashes broke out between security forces and student protesters, though it is unclear what prompted the clashes. Security forces fired shots, reportedly into the air, in a further effort to disperse the protesters. At least two students were struck by stray bullets and later died of their injuries. At least one more student and three security personnel were injured from clashes at the protest.
On July 2, CoE officials announced that the college would suspend academic activities indefinitely, due to the protest.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the violence, the use of force, and the death of two students during a student protest. SAR further offers condolences to the family and colleagues of the deceased students. 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, violence and the use of force in the contest of student protests undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.