Turkey’s failed coup may seem like a lifetime ago to the rest of the world but to the sitting government, which was threatened, the coup remains fresh in mind.
In the aftermath of Turkey’s failed coup which took place on July 15, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had vowed to cleanse the system of the “viruses” that attempted to depose his administration.
What followed were arrests and reports of torture that proved that the President intended to be true to his word.
The crackdown on the ‘dissidents’ is, therefore, still ongoing and has in fact taken a new turn that is bad news for Nigeria. About 50 Nigerian students (number given by the Turkish government) have been arrested and deported over the past week. The government had closed down some private schools after the coup attempt one of which was Fatih University. The students who are alleged to have been deported went there.
Turkey’s government alleges that the schools have links to the Gulen movement, led by US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, which it claims was behind the failed coup.
Local media reported the ordeal of Rukkaya Usman, one of the deported students, who told them that her passport was seized when she arrived in Turkey for a new academic session and she was sent back to Nigeria as part of a “new law”.
The new law apparently requires the Nigerian students to get new visas before they seek admission to other universities since their schools are closed down.
An official at Nigeria’s ministry of foreign affairs, Sola Enikanolaiye, says the government has met with Hakan Cakil, the Turkish ambassador to Nigeria, to demand it furnish “a reasonable explanation” and release the detained students. He also said that the Nigerian government ‘rejected’ the condition of getting a new visa. He said:
“We insisted that they must be issued the new visa in Turkey,”
This is not the first Nigerian link to Turkey’s failed coup that has been insinuated. After the coup, United Bank for Africa (UBA), one of Nigeria’s leading banks, was forced to deny being the conduit for $2 billion which allegedly funded the coup, after being named by a Turkish paper.
Turkey has also requested the closure of 17 schools in Nigeria, claiming that they had links to the Gulen movement and funds were being raised through them for “for illegal activities.” The Nigerian government rejected that particular request.
A Nigerian newspaper, The Cable, quoted an unnamed student as saying; “Students from Niger and Somalia were not harassed, arrested nor deported because their home governments shut down schools linked to the Hizmet movement at the request of the Turkish government,” (Hizmet is another name for the Gulen movement).
The student continued; “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.”