Turkish colleges respond to Turkey’s request to close 17 schools in Nigeria

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The Nigerian Turkish International Colleges have described the call by the Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Hakan Cakil, for the closure of 17 ‘Turkish’ schools in Nigeria as “a spurious request.”

In a statement issued on the school’s website Friday, the institution called on the public to ignore Mr. Cakil.

“But for the fact that the statement contained misleading information, we would not have dignified it with a response,” the school said in the statement signed by Orhan Kertim, the Managing Director.

“But as law-abiding schools operating in Nigeria since 1998, we owe Nigerians a duty to expose the ulterior motives of the Turkish Ambassador in the said statement.”

During a courtesy visit by the vice chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Shehu Sani, on Thursday, Mr. Cakil said the schools have links with a movement his government believed 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.

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.

“In Nigeria, there are 17 schools, which belong to the Gulen Movement, one in Kano, one in Kaduna, one in Abuja, Lagos etc and they are offering scholarships.

“We are starting some legal procedures to take the name of Turkish out of the name of the schools. They are not the schools of the Turkish Government.

“They are misleading the public and allocating scholarships to the children of the high bureaucracy and after they graduate from school, they send the children to Turkey to attend their universities,’’ Mr. Cakil said.

The NTIC, however, pushed back on Mr. Cakil’s claims, insisting that the Nigerian Turkish International Colleges was created with a vision to provide a conducive environment for teaching and learning, as well as produce youth who become productive members of the Nigerian society.

“The NTIC is not a Turkish government run institution, but a privately funded institution by a group of Turkish investors,” said Mr. Kertim.

“As a responsible organisation operating in Nigeria since 1998, we are conversant with the laws of the land and we have to the best of our ability abided by these stipulations.

Mr. Kertim said the call to shut down the schools by Mr. Cakil was not only baseless but also “unfounded and of poor taste.”

“Nigeria is a sovereign country and the call by the Turkish Ambassador is not only an affront to the sovereignty of the Nigerian nation but a display of the crass ignorance.”