(NAN) Mr Cemal Yigit, Spokesman, UFUK Dialogue Foundation, says that the Federal Government’s decision not to shut Turkish schools over alleged connection to the failed coup in Turkey was commendable.
Yigit, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja, said that the Turkish schools in Nigeria had no connection with the military coup in Turkey.
The Ufuk Dialogue Foundation is Nigerian-based Turkish platform where Christians and Muslims come together to promote peaceful coexistence, mutual understanding and dialogue, especially between the two religions.
NAN recalls that Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Hakan Cakil, recently urged the Federal Government to close down the schools.
He said that schools were affiliated the Gulen movement, the group the Turkish government fingered as the mastermind of the July 15 attempt to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdoan.
However, the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, said Nigeria would not shut the schools until the Turkish Government proved beyond reasonable doubt that they had connection with the coup.
The minister had said that Nigeria, as a sovereign state, had rules and regulations guiding its operations, either diplomatic or otherwise.
“Turkish schools and other investments came to Nigeria and indicated interest in investing in Nigerian education system.
“ Conditions were presented to them and they apparently met the requirements, and were issued operational licence, and they 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 Nigeria’s stance was a good one diplomatically as there was no prove 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, queried if the Turkish government had the right to make such call.
“To what extent is such right? What are the conditions? Are the schools owned by 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 Nigerian economy as it provides employment to many Nigerians,’’ he said.
NAN recalls also that Managing Director of the Nigeria Turkish International Colleges (NTIC), Orhan Kertin, had in a statement said that the call by Cakil contained misleading information.
Kertim said that he 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. (NAN)