At least 50 Nigerian students studying in Turkey were arrested in Istanbul and detained for 11 hours on alleged order of the Turkish government following the July 15th failed military coup in the country. Most of the detained Nigerians, mainly students of Fathi University and Meliksah University were made to sign deportation documents. Narrating her ordeal in a telephone call from THISDAY, one of the Nigerian students deported, Rukkaya Usman, said they were treated like criminals before the Turkish authorities repatriated them back to Nigeria.
Usman is a final year student of Political Science and International Relations at Meliksah University, one of the schools shut down in the wake of the failed coup. The Turkish authorities had said the affected schools were terrorist schools because they have links with Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen,
whom the Turkish government had accused of being the mastermind of the coup.
"I got to Turkey on the 26 of September at about 8am and the Immigration didn’t allow me to pass; they were asking, ‘where are you from?, where are you schooling?, and then, they took me to a room and asked me to wait. My passport and resident permit were with them," said Usman.
"They came back after few minutes with a paper and were asking me if I had money with me, they checked saw money and counted it, we were about eight of us. Before then, they said they are sending me back to my country and I asked they why, and they said when I go back to my country that I should visit the Turkish Embassy that they will answer all my questions.
"They gave me a paper to sign, I refused to sign because I don’t know what they wrote on the paper, they locked us inside a room, we were not allowed to go out, we were not allowed to see anyone, and we were just inside the room, just like criminals. The place is just like a prison
"They came and gave me back my residence permit and I said I should wait that they will call me and I asked them what about my passport, they said they are not giving me my passport until I get to Nigeria. After 11 hours they came back and gave me things they took from my bag and took me to the plane and when we got to Nigeria, they called someone from the immigration and gave him my passport and they now gave me back my passport."
"They deported me for no reason. They treated me like a criminal. I am supposed to be in my final year and my resident permit is valid and is supposed to expire next year September that is after I have graduated. So, honestly, I am offended because whatever business the Turkish government has with the proprietor of our school shouldn’t be affecting me as a student of his school, Usman narrated.Usman called on the Nigerian government to do something about the situation, saying as her transcript is still there and there is no way she can collect her transcript except she go there and she is supposed to graduate next year.