The vice-chancellors of 13 Nigerian universities have been replaced by the country’s president, Muhammadu Buhari.
New leaders have been named for the National Open University of Nigeria and for 12 federal universities that were established by former president Goodluck Jonathan.
No reason was given for the move, which was accompanied by the announcement of new governing councils for the institutions.
The Coalition of Civil Society Groups condemned the president’s actions as a “a gross violation of the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which guarantees universities’ autonomy”, The Nation reported.
In a letter to Mr Buhari, the CCSG said that the governing council of the National Open University was the only body authorised to replace the vice-chancellor, and complained that four of the new vice-chancellors were from Bayero University Kano.
This, the coalition said, represented the appointment of “friends and cronies without following due process”.
However, Michael Faborode, secretary general of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors, told the News Agency of Nigeria that the contracts of nine of the university leaders had expired.
“It will be unfair to say that they were sacked: they have exhausted their tenure; when your tenure is not renewed, it does not mean you are sacked,” Professor Faborode said. “I do not know the reasons why the vice-chancellors of the other three universities were affected.”