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 03, 2021

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Abuja

Region & Country:Western Africa | Nigeria

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On November 3, 2021, gunmen invaded the University of Abuja (UNIABUJA) and attacked Professor David Okoroafor.

On November 2, 2021, gunmen kidnapped four UNIABUJA staff members and their children (see report). Reports indicate that the next morning, less than 24 hours after the initial kidnappings, gunmen raided Dr. Okoroafor’s on-campus office and attacked him. In a message sent to university officials, Dr. Okoroafor described two men with weapons barging into his office, ordering him to lay on the ground, and threatening him with death. According to Dr. Okoroafor, the gunmen fled the office when he started to yell.

The incidents on November 2 and 3 appear 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 targeted attack and threatening of a higher education faculty member. 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 victim, such patterns of attacks and abductions of faculty and students undermine the conditions needed for the meaningful exercise of the right to education and academic freedom.