President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday returned to Abuja after a successful four-day working visit to Ankara and Istanbul in Turkey, landing at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport at 4.05 pm, having left Istanbul about four hours earlier..
Buhari, accompanied by his wife, Aisha, was received at the airport by senior government officials, including his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, Inspector-General of Police, Idris Ibrahim, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Alhaji Mohammad Bello and other presidential aides.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday by the President’s Spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, said the outing was Buhari’s first visit to Turkey since his election in 2015, but the second meeting with Erdogan who as Prime Minister visited Abuja in March, 2016. He said that Buhari’s objective during both visits focused on issues of security and anti-terrorism; agricultural cooperation and trade cooperation. Others were education and health; transport and connectivity; energy sector cooperation and increased private sector participation.
Shehu said “The meetings have also helped to enhance momentum in ties between Nigeria and the rest of the `D-8’ member-countries and the establishment of a positive working relationship, especially between Buhari and Erdogan.
“Turkey specifically mentioned the menace of the Fethullah organisation “FETO” which they accused of terrorism and involvement in the abortive coup plot in 2016, which the Turkish population gallantly resisted.
“There are more than 1,000 Turkish citizens in Nigeria, many of them accused of belonging to this organisation and for which reason their passports have been declared invalid by their country.
“Nigeria has her own problems with the Boko Haram terrorist organisation which claims ties to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS and (possibly) Daesh, (two international terrorist organisations which Turkey is up against) in the fight of which we get support from Turkey and we desire more.
“Both countries also have issues with domestic terror organisations for which they need each other’s help.
“There is equally the burning issue of the smuggling of illicit arms allegedly from Turkey, which their authorities effectively debunked but nonetheless agreed to enter into agreement with Nigeria that their ports, harbors, airports and territories will not ever again be used as transit points for such trafficking originating from other lands.’’
“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 on their part gave all assurances that no subversive activities against Nigeria will be permitted of their citizens or on their territory.’’
It would be recalled that Col. Hameed Ali (rtd.), the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), had on Sept. 21, at a briefing in Lagos, said that a syndicate based in Turkey had been discovered to be behind illegal arms imports into Nigeria. Ali was part of Buhari’s entourage to the just concluded four-day working visit to Turkey.