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: October 04, 2023

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Federal University, Dutsin-Ma (FUDM)

Region & Country:Western Africa | Nigeria

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On October 4, 2023, a Katsina militia group abducted five female Federal University, Dutsin-Ma (FUDM) students from their private hostel.

The group demanded a ransom of 2 million naira (about $2,500 USD) from the university for each of the students. The family of one of the students reportedly paid a total of 2.5 million naira (about $3,000 USD) to the kidnappers; however the student was not released.

Police later confirmed the release of one of the abducted students on November 19, 50 days after the abduction; it is unclear if a ransom was paid. As of December 2, the police are still searching for the four remaining students.

This incident appears to fit a pattern of attacks and kidnappings targeting schools and universities in Nigeria. On September 22, 2023, unknown gunmen abducted 35 students and workers from Federal University, Gusau (FUGUS), 13 of the individuals were released, and two have escaped (see report) On June 16, 2023, a Zamfara militia group abducted five students that were rescued by the Nigerian military two months later (see report). Sources have frequently described groups of “bandits” kidnapping students and staff in pursuit of ransom.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the abduction of higher education students. State authorities should take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of scholars, students, and staff, 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, kidnappings that target members of the higher education community undermine the conditions needed for the meaningful exercise of the right to education and academic freedom.

*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)