Turkey seeks extradition of 1000 citizens from Nigeria
by Tony Ailemen, Abuja
October 22, 2017 | 2:29 pm| | | Start Conversation
Nigerian government has confirmed that Turkish authorities requested for the extradition of over 1000 Turkish citizens in Nigeria for allegedly belonging to Fethullah Movement “FETO, which has been declared a terrorists organization by the Turkish government.
The extradition request which almost marred relationships between Nigeria and Turkey, Business Day gathered, was however skillfully handle by President Muhammadu Buhari and his team.
Business Day gathered that the request by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, on Thursday, in Ankara, had created tension between both countries as Nigeria refused to accede to the request of the Turkish authorities to have the affected persons extradited.
But Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, gave kudos to President Buhari for his “diplomatic skills” for averting what he said ” would have led to frosted diplomatic relations between Nigeria and Turkey”
He revealed that President Buhari assurances that Nigeria would not allow its territory to be used as a breeding ground for any terrorist or group of individuals with the aim of destabilizing Turkey, helped to create the much needed confidence about Nigeria good intentions.
According to Onyeama ” There was the request for the extradition of some of the Turks in Nigeria who have been given asylum to remain in Nigeria and recognized by the United Nations (UN) as political refugees and the Turkish government requested that we extradite some of them. There was also the request that the schools and hospitals established by GülenMovement should be closed in Nigeria. They now labelled them Fethtulah (FETO) as a terrorists organization
“These were all issues that were lingering and complicating slightly relationship between the two countries. So what this visit has been able to do I think is to put all those to rest and facilitated direct engagement and what I will call agreeing for a way forward between the two countries. Mr. President was very very good in that. He is a very good diplomat. Very very skillful diplomat. He was able to really douse the tension between the two sides while not compromising on principles of Nigeria. He did it very very well with a lot of diplomatic skills. The result has been that it has improved relationship between the two countries and government. The level of confidence between the two countries has also increased. It is a real diplomatic masterpiece”.
“The point was made and Mr. President with regard to the Gülen movement that under no circumstances would Nigeria allow itself to be a base for the destabilization of Turkey. And Mr. President came out very strongly in support of the democratic process and institutions of Turkey, condemning the coup attempt in Turkey and reassuring the Turkish government of Nigeria’s total support for the territorial integrity of Turkey, for the democratic governance in Turkey and the security of Turkey. Likewise the Turkish government made that reassurance to Nigeria. So once they got those different issues out of the way, it was much easier and they were more able to focus on what will transform the lives of Nigerians and the Turkish people,” Onyeama said.
Onyeama said President Buhari was also able to convince his hosts on issues of the refusal of visas to some Turkish security personnels, crises around the Indigenous People of Biafra IPOB and the delay in the issuance of Turkish visas to Nigeria and the request to increase the number of flights of Turkish Airlines into Nigeria.
“With all the outstanding issues, he was able to really skillfully navigate through but at the same time mending all the ruffled feathers and fences. we were able to void making it what I will call antagonistic. The part that he really chatted washing to look at those areas where we can cooperate and there would be win-win and would diffuse tension. They looked at economic areas, educational areas, economic development, operational areas and agree to allow the normal legal international processes to run their course with regard to the more sensitive issues,”
The Senior Special Assistant (SSA), Media and Publicity to President Buhari, Garba Shehu, in a separate interview, said the thrusts of Buhari’s visit was to enable both countries “focus on issues of security and anti-terrorism; agricultural cooperation; trade cooperation; education and health; transport and connectivity; energy sector cooperation and increased private sector participation”.
“the meetings have also helped to enhance momentum in ties between Nigeria and the rest of the “G8” members and the establishment of a positive working relationship especially between Buhari and Erdogan”.
Shehu stated further that the two governments agreed to support each other in the fight against terrorism, human trafficking, drugs trafficking and arms trafficking adding that “Turkey specifically mentioned the menace of the Fethullah organization “FETO” which they accused of terrorism and involvement in the abortive coup plot last year which the Turkish population gallantly resisted.There are more than 1,000 Turkish citizens in Nigeria, many of them accused of belonging to this organization and for which reason, their passports have been declared invalid by their country”.
He reiterated that “on the issues of the suspected terrorists of Turkish origin in Nigeria, President Erdogan received the best assurances from our leader that Nigeria will not allow any person or organization to use her territory for any subversive activities. President Buhari used every given opportunity to denounce the failed coup attempt. The Turkish citizens who have sought and already obtained assistance from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNCHR since they became stateless persons have been warned not to engage in any political activities while they are in Nigeria. Turkish authorities for their part gave all assurances that no subversive activities against Nigeria will be permitted of their citizens or on their territory”.
Tony Ailemen, Abuja
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