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: December 06, 2023

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Federal University of Lafia

Region & Country:Western Africa | Nigeria

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On December 6, 2023, unknown gunmen kidnapped around seven Federal University of Lafia students from a private student hostel.

Nigerian military personnel rescued the students on December 11, five days after being kidnapped. It is unclear if there was a ransom demand.

This incident appears to fit a pattern of attacks and kidnappings targeting schools and universities in Nigeria. 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 rescued, 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.