Lagos University name change triggers protests

Students at the University of Lagos staged a two-day protest over a decision by Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan to rename the federal institution after a political prisoner who died in custody over a decade ago.

On 29 May Jonathan announced that the flagship university, also known as Unilag, would be renamed Moshood Abiola University in honour of Abiola, a popular businessman and politician widely believed to have won Nigeria's 1993 presidential elections. Abiola was denied victory however, when the election result was annulled by military ruler Ibrahim Babangida. After declaring himself president Abiola was jailed by Babangida's successor Sani Abacha, and died in custody in 1998.

On 30 May an estimated 1,000 students were involved in barricading the 12-km Third Mainland Bridge which connects Lagos to its islands – home to many of the city’s businesses – causing severe traffic tailbacks. The demonstration led authorities to close the university for two weeks and order all students to vacate its halls of residence with immediate effect.

Jonathan said that the name change would honour the "martyrdom" shown by Abiola.

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