One of the Nigerian students deported by Turkish government after being detained for 11 hours in Istanbul, Rukkaya Usman, yesterday said they (students) were treated like criminals before the Turkish authorities repatriated them back to Nigeria.
Usman is a final year student of Political Science and International Relations at Meliksah University, located at Kayseri. Meliksah University was among the schools shut down in the wake of the July 15th failed coup in Turkey.
The Turkish authorities had said the affected schools were terrorist schools because they have links with Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen, whom the Turkish government had accused of being the mastermind of the coup in Turkey. Narrating her ordeal in a telephone call from THISDAY, Usman said: “I got to Turkey on the 26 of September at about 8am and the Immigration didn’t allow me to pass; they were asking, ‘where are you from?, where are you schooling?, and then, they took me to a room and asked me to wait. My passport and resident permit were with them.”
According to her, “They came back after few minutes with a paper and were asking me if I had money with me, they checked saw money and counted it, we were about eight of us. Before then, they said they are sending me back to my country and I asked they why, and they said when I go back to my country that I should visit the Turkish Embassy that they will answer all my questions.
“They gave me a paper to sign, I refused to sign because I don’t know what they wrote on the paper, they locked us inside a room, we were not allowed to go out, we were not allowed to see anyone, and we were just inside the room, just like criminals. The place is just like a prison.”
“They came and gave me back my residence permit and I said I should wait that they will call me and I asked them what about my passport, they said they are not giving me my passport until I get to Nigeria. After 11 hours they came back and gave me things they took from my bag and took me to the plane and when we got to Nigeria, they called someone from the immigration and gave him my passport and they now gave me back my passport.”
“They deported me for no reason. They treated me like a criminal. I am supposed to be in my final year and my resident permit is valid and is supposed to expire next year September that is after I have graduated. So, honestly, I am offended because whatever business the Turkish government has with the proprietor of our school shouldn’t be affecting me as a student of his school,” Usman lamented.
She, however, called on the Nigerian government to do something about the situation, saying “my transcript is still there and there is no way I can collect my transcript except I go there and I am supposed to graduate next year.”
The father of one of the deported students insisted that the matter is not being handled properly. He said what happened between the Turkish government and the proprietor of the universities should not affect the students of the institution from Nigeria who went to study in Turkey.
According to him, “that the government of Turkey fell out with the proprietor of these institutions does not mean the students should be punished. They just went to study. They are not being fair to these students because after studying for years and we the parents have suffered to pay their fees for years to go and study and you are sending them back home without even their transcript. So, they have to do something about it.”