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 22, 2023

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Nasarawa State University, Keffi

Region & Country:Western Africa | Nigeria

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On October 22, 2023, unknown gunmen abducted Comfort Adokwe, a lecturer in the Faculty of Administration and Deputy Director of the Gender Studies program at Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), from her residence.

The gunmen demanded ransom, and the family reportedly paid 5 million naira (about $6,300 USD). Adokwe was released three days after her kidnapping, on October 25. Police reported that Adokwe was held in the same location as Professor Haruna Ayuba Kuje who was kidnapped on October 8 (see report).

This incident appears to fit a pattern of attacks and kidnappings targeting schools and universities in Nigeria. On October 10, 2023, an unidentified armed group abducted four Nasarawa State University, Keffi students that were rescued by the Nigerian military three 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 a professor. 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.