Police in Nigeria’s largest city used tear gas on Friday to try to disperse a crowd of several hundred university students angry at the president’s decision to change the name of their school.
The protest began peacefully at the University of Lagos. But students then surrounded an armoured police truck and beat on it. Police fired tear gas and hundreds of students responded with a barrage of thrown stones.
They were protesting a decision on Tuesday by President Goodluck Jonathan to change the name of the city’s flagship university. Jonathan said the University of Lagos — known as UNILAG — would be renamed Moshood Abiola University in honour of a political prisoner who died in jail over a decade ago.
Abiola was a businessman widely believed to be the winner of a 1993 presidential poll annulled by military ruler General Ibrahim Babangida. Babangida’s successor, General Sani Abacha, then jailed Abiola. The businessman died in custody.
Jonathan said on Tuesday that the name change would honour Abiola’s “martyrdom.”
He also announced that the government would establish an institute to study democracy and governance in the renamed university. For many students, however, this is an unfair trade-off.