More than 50 Nigerian students were detained on Friday in Turkey, allegedly on the orders of the government, the Thisday news website has reported.
According to Thisday, a source whose relative was among the detained students stated that “upon arrival at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, they were all escorted to a room and their passports [were] confiscated by Turkish police.”
The report goes on to say that when the students asked why they were being confined, the police said they were students of a “terrorist organization.”
The Nigerians were for the most part enrolled at Fatih University, which is among 2,099 schools, dormitories and universities that were shut down in the wake of a July 15 failed coup in Turkey.
The Turkish authorities said the educational institutions were terrorist schools because they have links with Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, whom the government has accused of masterminding the failed coup.
Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria Hakan Cakil had requested that Nigerian authorities close down 17 Turkish schools in the country for alleged links to the Gülen movement, Thisday noted.
The Nigerian authorities refused, stating that it would instead await evidence linking the proprietors of the schools in Nigeria to the failed coup in Turkey.
One Thisday source also referred to the case of a Nigerian named Aminat, a final year student at one of the universities closed after the putsch.
“Aminat came to the airport to travel to Nigeria since her school had been shut down, but to her surprise, she was asked to pay a penalty for entering the country illegally. She paid the fine, and she was kept, alongside others in the same room with people waiting to be deported,” said Thisday.
Thisday also learned that some of those detained at the airport were made to sign documents giving their consent to deportation from Turkey. An e-mail to the Turkish Embassy on why the students were detained received no response.