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: August 16, 2021

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Imprisonment

Institution(s):Zamfara College of Agriculture and Animal Science

Region & Country:Western Africa | Nigeria

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On August 16, 2021, a group of unidentified gunmen invaded the Zamfara College of Agriculture and Animal Science, killing four people and kidnapping 15 students and 4 staff members. 

Around midnight, a large number of heavily armed, unidentified gunmen arrived on campus. Local police were deployed to campus and confronted the gunmen, exchanging fire. According to police, the gunmen shot and killed one police officer and three campus security guards. The gunmen abducted 15 students and four staff members, three of whom were rescued by police shortly after the incident.

On August 17, the school’s provost reported that the abductors demanded N350 million (approximately USD $850,000) in ransom.

On August 27, the gunmen released all kidnapped students. Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle told reporters that no ransom was paid for the students’ release. One report indicates that 18 students, a higher number than what was initially reported, were released. It is unclear whether the additional staff member was released.

The August 16 incident appears to fit a pattern of attacks and kidnappings targeting schools and universities in the northern region of Nigeria. Sources have frequently described groups of “bandits” kidnapping students and staff in pursuit of seeking ransom (see reports here, here, and here).

Scholars at Risk is concerned about a violent raid on a higher education institution, and the killing and abduction of students. SAR offers condolences to the family and colleagues of the deceased student. 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.