Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday highlighted the importance of the common fight against terrorism during a press conference in Nigeria, stating that Turkey will continue to share information with Nigerian authorities about “FETÖ’s illegal activities in Nigeria,” local media reported on Wednesday.
FETÖ is a derogatory term coined by Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to refer to the faith-based Gülen movement as a terrorist organization, a claim strongly denied by the group.
Erdoğan’s visit to the Nigerian capital of Abuja was the last leg of his four-day-tour of three African countries in which he also visited Angola and Togo.
The president, who was welcomed on Wednesday by his Nigerian counterpart, Muhammadu Buhari, in an official ceremony at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, spoke at a joint press conference after one-on-one talks and delegation meetings, where bilateral relations and opportunities for further cooperation between the countries were discussed.
“We discussed all aspects of Turkey-Nigeria relations. We are determined to deepen our cooperation,” Erdoğan said, adding that Turkey was ready to share its capabilities in the defense industry and security fields with Nigeria.
Stating their expectation for cooperation in fighting terrorism, Erdoğan said Ankara continues to share information with the Nigerian authorities about the activities of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group that focuses on science education, volunteerism, community involvement, social work and interfaith and intercultural dialogue and is inspired by the teachings of Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen, in Nigeria.
According to Turkish media reports, there are 17 schools, a university and a hospital linked to the faith-based group in six states of Nigeria, one of the many countries that have been refusing to accept the Turkish government’s request that they transfer the Gülen-linked schools to Turkey’s Maarif Foundation.
Maarif was established by the Turkish government prior to a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, through legislation in the Turkish parliament, and after the abortive putsch, it targeted the closure of Gülen-linked educational institutions as part of Turkish foreign policy since the government accuses the Gülen movement of orchestrating the failed coup and has launched a crackdown on the movement.
Erdoğan has been targeting the group since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members, and his inner circle.
Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following the abortive putsch.