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Turkish president will ask Buhari to shut down Nile University, NTIC, others during visit to Nigeria


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TURKISH President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would again ask the Nigerian government to close down schools linked to the Gulen Movement when he meets President Muhammadu Buhari during his ongoing four-day diplomatic tour of three African countries.

The Turkish government wants to take over the schools upon their closure by the Nigerian government.

The Gulen Movement, an international, faith-based civil society organisation, is led by United States-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethulah Gulen.

Gulen is alleged to be the mastermind of the July 15, 2016 bloody coup which attempted to remove Erdoğan from power.

Gulen had denied involvement in the coup but the Turkish government insists he was behind the coup which involved an assassination attempt on Erdoğan and loss of over a hundred lives.

The Gulen Movement owns a chain of 17 high profile educational establishments in Nigeria.

The educational institutions owned by the Gulen Movement in Nigeria include: Surat Educational Ltd., Abuja; Nile University in Abuja; and the Nigerian Tulip International Colleges (NTIC), which was formerly known as Nigerian Turkish International Colleges (NTIC).

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The NTIC colleges, regarded as prestigious educational institutions, are located in several major Nigerian cities, including Abuja, Lagos, Kano, and Kaduna.

The Turkish government’s clampdown on the Gulen schools forced the change of name in 2017, from Nigerian Turkish International Colleges to Nigerian Tulip International Colleges, but the management of the institutions had explained that the name change was informed by a desire to separate academic activities from politics.

The educational institutions, run by the Gulen Movement which the Turkish government had since designated as a terrorist organisation, have been operating in Nigeria since 1998.

The Gulen Movement runs schools and universities in more than 160 countries.

The organisation also owns the Nizamiye Hospital in Abuja.

Leader of the Gulen Movement Fethulah Gulen is the alleged mastermind of the July 2016 coup that attempted to oust Erdoğan as Turkish president

Assets linked to the Gulen Movement in Turkey were frozen by the Turkish government in the clampdown that followed the botched coup and Erdoğan, seeking to neutralise the organisation, took the campaign to liquidate the organisation outside Turkey.

In August 2016, Erdoğan, through the then Turkish ambassador to Nigeria Hakan Cakil, had asked the Nigerian government to close down the Gulen schools in the West African country.

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The grounds on which the Turkish government made the request were that the schools were linked to the Gulen Movement, which it referred to as the ‘Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).’

The Buhari administration has, so far, refused to accede to the request, which was widely condemned by Nigerians, particularly parents of students of the Gulen schools in Nigeria.

Erdoğan mounted further pressure on Buhari to close the Gulen schools during the Nigerian president’s visit to Turkey in October 2017.

At a joint news conference during the visit, Erdoğan said Turkey would support Nigeria’s fight against the Boko Haram terror group if the West African country reciprocated by supporting Turkey’s campaign against the Gulen Movement.

In 2019 Turkish ambassador to Nigeria Melih Ulueren said the Republic of Turkey intended to take over the Gulen Movement’s investments in Nigeria, having designated it as a terrorist organisation.

Ulueren said the Turkish Maarif Foundation had been set up to take over the economic interests of the Gulen Movement in Nigeria, including schools, hospitals and manufacturing firms.

* Erdoğan to meet Buhari in Abuja 

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Erdoğan is currently on a four-day diplomatic tour to three African countries – Nigeria, Angola and Togo

Daily Sabah, a Turkish pro-government publication, said the tour was in line with Turkey’s Africa policy, geared at contributing to the economic and social development of the continent and growing bilateral relations on the basis of equal partnership and mutual benefit.

Erdoğan has officially visited 28 African countries to date, including an earlier visit to Nigeria in 2016.

The tour would be the Turkish president’s second visit to Nigeria.

Daily Sabah further disclosed that while Erdoğan was scheduled to meet Nigerian President Buhari and attend the Turkey-Nigeria Business Forum on his second visit to the West African country, “the fight against the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey, will also be discussed during the Turkish president’s visit.”

“This will include a request to transfer FETÖ schools that continue to operate in several parts of Nigeria to the Turkish Maarif Foundation,” the publication added.

Nigeria is Turkey’s top trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa with a trading volume of $754 million in 2020, which is expected to rise to more than $1 billion.

According to Daily Sabah, three agreements in the fields of hydrocarbons, mining and energy are also expected to be signed between Nigeria and Turkey during Erdoğan’s visit.

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