Persistent calls to boycott Northern Cyprus universities

Against a backdrop of the allegations of inexplicable deaths of Nigerian students in Northern Cyprus, the Nigerian government has warned its citizens against moving to this region of the south-eastern European island to study at any of its universities.

The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), a federal government agency, issued an advisory to parents and students against seeking education in the self-styled Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which covers about a third of the island of Cyprus and has been occupied by Turkey since 1974.

The Director General of NIDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said at the end of August that the reason for the advisory was the human rights abuses allegedly meted out to Nigerians in the country.

She alleged that several Nigerians were being maltreated and even killed in Northern Cyprus and that, unfortunately, the local authorities did nothing to bring those responsible for the deaths to justice.

“Think twice before going to Northern Cyprus. We can’t do much for Nigerians there. Our students are being killed daily,” Dabiri-Erewa told journalists at a press briefing.

But, in a statement dated 8 September 2022, Hidayet Bayraktar, the Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, said Northern Cyprus authorities are taking the accusations “very seriously, and preparing to take the necessary precautions”.

The ambassador cautioned Dabiri-Erewa against sending “wrong perceptions” about Northern Cyprus.

Bayraktar reiterated that the occurrence of criminal incidents was not a daily routine and that all were thoroughly investigated.

“In fact, the Nigerian embassy staff in Ankara visits the TRNC [Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus] on a regular basis in order to observe the consular situation on the ground and there is a decent working dialogue between the Nigerian embassy in Ankara and the Turkish Cypriot authorities. I would be interested in learning if Ms Dabiri-Erewa has verified her information with the findings of these official visits,” Bayraktar said.

However, a day after the ambassador’s statement, a Nigerian student, Abdulsamad Abubakar, studying international relations at Cyprus Science University, was reported missing.

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