The recent unjustified arrest, detention, traumatization and subsequent release of 50 Nigerian students in Turkey by that country’s government must rank as a most unfortunate low in the Nigerian – Turkish relations. Seen in context, it constitutes an instance of unjustified victimization of innocent foreigners, out of misplaced grudge by a government that had no cause for such act of indiscretion.
Nigerian students studying in Turkey have been detained in airports after being interrogated like criminals. About 50 of them were detained in Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport for 11 hours; some were deported, even though they were bona fide students who were yet to complete their studies.
According to Dabiri-Erewa: “The Federal Government is taking the detention of Nigerian students by Turkish authorities seriously. It seems that Turkey is trying to get at Nigeria for our failure to close down the 17 schools they requested. The government did not close down these schools because their owners and managers, who are private people have not breached Nigerian laws.”
Nigerian students in Turkey say that the Turkish government has declared a war on them and that they feel targeted, therefore they stay in hiding for fear of being arrested or deported. “We are scared of leaving our rooms for fear of being arrested and charged with terrorism, or deported. There is a man-hunt for Nigerian students in Turkey,” a student told The Cable.
No fewer than 50 Nigerians attending private schools in Turkey, including Fatih University, were recently deported by that country after the coup attempt. Nigeria had ignored calls by the Turkish government to close down 17 Turkish schools in the country. The Turkish government alleged that the schools were linked to Fethullah Gülen.
Nigerian lawmakers have urged the Turkish government to apologise for arresting and deporting dozens of Nigerian students. The majority of the youths attended the Fatih University, which is among thousands of educational buildings Turkey has shut down in a crackdown following the failed coup.
Turkish authorities have deported 5 Yemeni students at official universities which the authorities have recently shut down for links with US-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen. Tens of Yemeni students in Turkey are facing the risk of deportation for being students at universities administered by Fethullah Gulen’s movement.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday issued a seven-day ultimatum to Turkish Government to release over 50 Nigerian students being held in detention. The House called on the federal government to urgently deploy all diplomatic options to ensure their immediate release.
Abuja – The House of Representatives on Tuesday urged the Federal Government to quickly intervene and ensure the rescue of 50 Nigerian students detained by Turkish government. According to Rep. Aminu Suleiman, the Turkish Ambassador in Nigeria had requested the Nigerian authorities to close down 17 Turkish schools in Nigeria for alleged link with Hizmet movement.
The Federal Government of Nigeria is demanding an explanation and immediate resolution following the deportation of almost 50 Nigerian students at the Ataturk Airport in Turkey. Just after the coup, the Turkish Government had requested that 17 Turkish schools be closed down for their ties to the Gulen Movement and the Nigerian Government didn’t accept it.
Turkey’s relations with African countries have been strained following demands by the Turkish government to close Gulenist schools in Sudan, Nigeria, and Somalia. After the attempted coup in Turkey on July 15, which the Turkish government has accused Gulen of masterminding, Turkey’s ambassador to Nigeria called for 17 Gulenist schools in the country to be closed.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Sola Enikanolaye, has said that the Nigerian students who were arrested in Turkey for an alleged role in the July coup attempt in Turkey may have been paying for the refusal of the Nigerian government to shut down some Turkish schools and institutions in Nigeria.
Nigerian students in Turkey are in hiding following the government’s crackdown on them. “We are scared of leaving our rooms for fear of being arrested and charged with terrorism, or deported. Most of us are in our final year. What do we do?” students said.
The Turkish government is in a drive to deport all Nigerian students at universities linked to Fethullah Gulen’s Hizmet movement. Gulen is an Islamic cleric whom President Erdogan of Turkey considers as his strongest rival. After the botched July 15 coup, Erdogan launched a massive crackdown on the investments of Gulen’s followers. He blamed Gulen for the coup, but he has denied the allegation.