The horrific attack occurred on Monday night at the Adamawa State University in Mubi town in the northern state of Adamawa, prompting an exodus of frightened students.
Gunmen invaded hostels of the Federal Polytechnic of the School of Health Technology and killed as many as 46 students and injured several others, police and school sources said.
A spokesman for the Federal Polytechnic, who did not want his name mentioned, told PTI that the gunmen wore military attires and told the students to identify themselves by name. He said some of them were spared after mentioning their names but no reason was given by the assailants for the identification process.
"The shooting took place on the night of Nigeria's 52nd Independence celebration, at about 10 pm, when the gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram, open fired on some students at Wuro Fatuje area of the city," he said.
The attackers used guns and knives in killing the students, he added. According to him, the number of students of his institution who lost their lives was 26, while 20 others were students from other colleges of the town.
The spokesman of the oil-rich African country's National Emergency Management Agency Yushua Shuaib said he cannot say whether the assailants were members of the violent sect Boko Haram that is notorious within the region. "I also do not have the total casualty figure but would make that available soon," he told PTI.
A curfew was clamped has been placed on the city but this did not deter the frightened students from fleeing the place in droves.
The state has witnessed several killings by the radical Islamic sect that wants to install a Sharia government on the country whose 150 million population is divided equally among Muslims and Christians.
The group is against Western education and influence and has been carrying out its violence activities since 2009 when its leader Muhammed Yusuf was killed by police in an alleged extra-judicial killing.