By Alex Enumah in Abuja
As the Turkish government extends its clampdown on people and institutions allegedly linked to the July 15 failed coup in Turkey, a former Nigerian ambassador has urged Nigerians to ignore the recent request of the Turkish government for the closure of some turkey’s institution in Nigeria.
The ambassador described as baseless, unfounded and unfortunate the request by the Turkish government, even as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hajia Abba Ibrahim declined comment on the issue on the grounds that it was a purely diplomatic issue.
The Retired Ambassador Sulieman Dahiru, who has served in Brazil, Angola, United State of America, Poland, Ivory Coast, Austria, Sudan and Pakistan, condemned the move arguing that Nigeria is a sovereign country, and should therefore ignore the request.
Ambassador Dahiru while reacting to the questions of journalists over the development stated that Nigeria had no business in meddling in the affairs and warned that any attempt by Nigeria to respond to the call may spark off diplomatic row between the two nations.
The Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Hakan Cakil, while receiving in audience the vice chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Shehu Sani, had called on the Nigerian Government to close 17 Turkish schools in Nigeria for their alleged links with a movement his government said was involved in the July 15 failed coup attempt in Turkey.
According to the ambassador, investigations by the Turkish government showed that a movement led by US-based Fethullah Gulen was responsible for the failed coup attempt, which claimed over 200 lives.
The schools are said to be linked to the Islamic cleric who is believed to be widely influential.
He said the Turkish government was dissociating itself from any school bearing the country’s name in Nigeria, adding that while the country had schools in other countries, it had none in Nigeria.
“We are requesting the Nigerian Government to close down the schools.
“I have requested officially, both orally and in writing, the closure of these schools. Also, I have sent a letter to Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama (Foreign Minister) and Mr. Abba Kyari (Chief of Staff to the President) about this subject and requested their support for the closure of the schools.
Speaking further, Dahiru who described the request as unfortunate said for the fact that the movement had dissociated itself from the coup made the request baseless. He said the Turkish schools had done exceptionally well in bridging educational gap in Nigeria, adding that the schools had also exposed the few privileged to better education.
Similarly, spokesperson of the Nigerian Turkish International Colleges (NTIC), Cemal Yigit, while dismissing the request, stated that the NTIC was not a Turkish government run institution, but a privately funded institution by a group of Turkish investors. He argued that the name Nigerian – Turkish already connoted that it is not a Turkish owned institution.
He disclosed that the schools which was founded in 1998 was committed to providing quality education to all Nigerians irrespective of tribe and religion is spread across the geo-political zones of the country with 45% of its students from the Christian religion.
“The NTIC schools in Nigeria are Turkish in name but Nigerian in deeds. We are partners in progress as evident in all our activities since 1998.
“The NTIC is non-political and non-partisan. Our philosophy is centered on dialogue, love and tolerance”, he said.