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 10, 2023

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Nasarawa State University, Keffi

Region & Country:Western Africa | Nigeria

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On October 10, 2023, an unidentified armed group abducted four Nasarawa State University, Keffi students from a private student hostel in Anguwan Kare, North-Central Nigeria.

The group demanded a ransom of 20 million naira (about $25,000 USD). On October 13, 2023, three days after their abduction, it was reported that the Nigerian military had rescued the students. It is unclear if the ransom was paid.

This incident appears to fit a pattern of attacks and kidnappings targeting schools and universities in Nigeria; and is the third kidnapping in the northern region in just the last two weeks. On October 8, 2023, unknown gunmen kidnapped Haruna Ayuba Kuje, a professor in Biogeography and Environmental Science and former deputy vice-chancellor at Nasarawa State University, Keffi, who was released two days later (see report); on October 4, 2023, a Katsina militia group abducted five female Federal University, Dutsin-Ma students, four are still missing (see report); 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). 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),was%20invaded%20by%20armed%20men.