The Federal Government has said the request by the Turkish Government for the closure of 17 schools and hospitals owned by some Turkish businessmen in Nigeria would be handled diplomatically. The Turkish authorities had linked the owners of the schools with the recent failed coup in Turkey.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Khadija Ibrahim, said on Friday in Abuja that the Federal Government would evaluate the request of the Turkish government and handle it accordingly.
She was responding to questions from journalists shortly after signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria, Eric Mayoraz, on the planned repatriation of $321m looted by late Gen. Sani Abacha.
Ibrahim declined to speak on whether the government would accede to Turkey’s request, maintaining that it was a diplomatic issue which she could not comment on.
“It (Turkey’s request) is a diplomatic issue and it would be handled diplomatically,” she said and refused to entertain further questions.
Saturday PUNCH, however, gathered that the Federal Government might not accede to the request of Turkey.
A top Federal Government official, who confided in our correspondent, said, “Government cannot just close the schools. We are evaluating their request, but they may approach a court for an order to close the schools and hospitals.”
The Ambassador of Turkey to Nigeria, Mr. Hakan Cakil, had alleged that the schools and hospitals were allegedly owned by the Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organisation allegedly founded by Fethullag Gulen, a Turkish citizen living in United States.
According to the ambassador, confessions by the coup plotters, who are currently under investigation, indicated that the same syndicate which hatched the botched July 15, 2016 coup, owned the schools in Nigeria.
The envoy stated that his country did not own any school in Nigeria, adding that similar schools established in Turkey had been shut down.
But the Managing Director, Nigerian Turkish International Colleges, Orhan Kertim, described Cakil’s allegations as baseless, unfounded and in poor taste.
Kertim in a statement on Friday in Abuja, said Nigeria is a sovereign state “and the call by the Turkish ambassador is not only an affront to the sovereignty of Nigerian nation, but a display of crass ignorance.”
He said: ”The NTIC is a privately funded institution owned by a group of Turkish investors and 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. The general public is urged to ignore and disregard the statement by the Turkish ambassador.”
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