Abuja – Mr Cemal Yigit, the spokesman of UFUK Dialogue Foundation, has lauded the Federal Government’s decision not to shut the Turkish schools in Nigeria for alleged connection with the failed coup in Turkey.
Yigit, who spoke on Friday in Abuja, said that the Turkish schools in Nigeria had no connection with the military coup in Turkey.
The Foundation is a Nigerian-based Turkish platform, where Christians and Muslims come together to promote peaceful coexistence, mutual understanding and dialogue, especially between the two religions.
Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Hakan Cakil, had urged the Federal Government to close down the schools.
Cakil said that the schools were affiliated with the Gulen movement, the group the Turkish Government fingered as the mastermind of the July 15 attempt to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
However, the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, said Nigeria would not shut the schools until the Turkish Government proved beyond reasonable doubt that the schools had connection with the group.
The minister had said that Nigeria, as a sovereign state, had rules and regulations guiding its operations, diplomatic or otherwise.
“Turkish schools and other investments came to Nigeria and indicated interest in investing in the Nigerian education system.
“ Conditions were presented to them and they apparently met the requirements and they were issued operational licence and have been operating in line with the specification of the licence they have.
“In that regard, it would be morally and legally unfair to yield to the call of the Turkish Government on mere allegations.
“We have no evidence against the Turkish schools and other investments in Nigeria that would warrant that we take the action as requested by the government and close the schools or other investments.
“Until the Turkish Government proves otherwise, they will continue to do their legitimate business here in Nigeria,’’ Adamu had said.
Yigit told NAN that the Nigeria’s stance was a good one diplomatically, as there was no proof linking these schools to the coup.
“That is how diplomacy should be handled and I respect Nigeria for that,’’ Yigit said.
On his part, Mr Maxwell Opara, a legal practitioner, wondered if the Turkish Government had the right to make such call.
Are the schools owned by the private investors or does the Turkish Government have a stake in the schools.
“If the Turkish Government has a stake in the schools, it can ask the Nigerian Government to disassociate itself from the schools.
“If the schools are not owned by the Turkish Government, it does not have the right to ask Nigeria to shut the schools because Nigeria is a sovereign state.
“Besides, the schools are helping the growth of the Nigerian economy, as it provides employment to many Nigerians,’’ he said.
NAN recalls also that the Managing Director of the Nigeria Turkish International Colleges (NTIC), Orhan Kertin, had in a statement said that the call by Cakil was misleading.
Kertin said that the schools had been operating in Nigeria since 1998 and had been law-abiding.
He said that NTIC was not a Turkish Government run institution but a privately funded institution by a group of Turkish investors.