A demonstration by students protesting against the living and studying conditions at the Abdou Moumouni University campus in Niger’s capital Niamey has forced the authorities to shut down the university following violent clashes between students and security forces.
The students’ protest action was held on 10 April and organised by major student body Union des Scolaires Nigériens (Niger Students Union), which has 23,000 members, but has not been approved by the authorities.
According to a local press report students expressed their anger last week at the failure of the authorities to comply with their demands, including the payment of scholarships, allowances and social assistance. They also complained about the poor state of laboratories, campus infrastructure, student transportation, libraries, computer rooms and electricity.
Another news report indicated that in Niamey, pupils and students occupied roads and paralysed traffic near the campus, erecting barricades with tree trunks and rocks and setting fire to tyres. The demonstration turned violent with police chasing students. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd and students threw stones. According to official figures, 313 people were arrested following that protest, some of whom have since been released. In addition to one student who was killed a total of 109 people were injured in the melee, 88 protesters and 21 police. Later that day authorities closed the campus leaving thousands homeless.
Later in the week a video surfaced on social media of security forces beating a student which appeared to have been filmed and disseminated by the police themselves. Three policemen were arrested for the video, according to a statement read on national television last week.
The campus was re-opened after the President Mahamaddou Issoufou held talks with the students’ union representative on Saturday and opened a dialogue between the union representatives and the prime minister the next day. But on Monday (April 17) the students walked out of the talks and called for more protests. Thousands came to the funeral of the student who was killed.