The Turkish embassy in Nigeria has called on the Nigerian authorities to shut down a group of “Turkey-related” schools and other institutions that it says are involved in a network of terror-related activities, including the failed coup attempt of July 15.
According to Punch newspaper, the Turkish ambassador to Nigeria Hakan Cakil has stated that the Turkish government officially notified the Nigerian Authorities “to the existence of 17 of such schools in Nigeria, which bear the name of Turkey” but were not owned by the European country.
On July 15, soldiers in Turkey attempted a coup to overthrow the government of Turkish President Racep Tayip Erdogan. The coup was foiled by the combined efforts of Turkish police, media, politicians, and citizens, who were urged to take to the streets in protest by President Erdogan.
Erdogan believes the coup was led by 75-year-old Turkish Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the US. Since the coup, Turkish authorities have since embarked on a massive purge leading to the arrests of individuals and the shutdown of organizations suspected of having links to Fethullah Gulen within Turkey. Authorities seek to extend the same measures abroad through its diplomatic arm.
At least 17 secondary schools operate in Nigeria under the name Nigerian Turkish International College (NTIC). Information made available by the Turkish embassy has listed the following schools among the accused:
- Surat Educational Limited, Abuja;
- Nigerian-Turkish International School, Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Yobe, Ogun, and Lagos campuses;
- and the Nigerian-Turkish Nile University, Abuja.
Other organizations linked by the embassy to to Gulen are:
- The Association of Businessmen and Investors of Nigeria and Turkey/Abinat, Abuja and Lagos;
- Ufuk Dialogue Foundation, Abuja;
- Nigerian-Turkish Nizamiye Hospital, Abuja;
- and Vefa Travel Agency, Abuja.
While admitting that until the recent coup attempt, schools and organisations linked to Gulen enjoyed the support and acceptance of the Turkish authorities, Ambassador Cakil says all of them are now believed to have links to Fethullah Gulen’s alleged terrorist network. He went further to assert that Gulen’s organization was using the schools to generate funds and recruit terrorists who threatened the peace and stability of Turkey. Gulen has repeatedly described all the allegations as untrue.
In a related development, the Turkish government made allegations earlier in July that the Nigerian branch of foremost Pan-African bank, United Bank of Africa (UBA) was involved in the transfer of more than $2 billion over a six-month period that was used to finance the failed coup attempt.
UBA spokesperson Charles Aigbe has since issued an official statement refuting the claims and describing the allegations as untrue.