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: November 02, 2021

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Abuja

Region & Country:Western Africa | Nigeria

New or Ongoing:New Incident

 On November 2, 2021, gunmen kidnapped four University of Abuja (UNIABUJA) staff members and their children.

Reports indicate that unidentified gunmen raided staff quarters at UNIABUJA at around 1:00 AM local time. Four staff members were kidnapped, including a professor of economics and his two children. The perpetrators demanded N$300 million (at the time, roughly [insert USD conversion for that date]) in ransom from the university in exchange for the staff members’ release.

On November 5, university management and local police confirmed that personnel and children had been rescued. In a statement, the university indicated that it had not paid the ransom.

The November 2 incident appears to fit a pattern of attacks and kidnappings targeting higher education communities in Nigeria. Sources have frequently described groups of “bandits” kidnapping students and/or faculty in pursuit of seeking ransom (see reports here, here, and here).

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the abduction of higher education faculty members. State authorities should take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of faculty and students, including by investigating and holding perpetrators of such acts responsible, in line with international human rights standards. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such patterns of abductions of faculty and students undermine the conditions needed for the meaningful exercise of the right to education and academic freedom.