The Head of Mission, Syria embassy in Nigeria, Dr. Shafik Daiyob has said that the Nigerian supporters of the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq terrorist group obtained visas to join the group in Syria from the Turkish embassy in Nigeria.
The envoy who spoke through an interpreter said this in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Friday.
The son of a former Chief Justice of Nigeria had obtained Turkish visa and crossed the Turkish border to join ISIS in Syria along with his family in February, 2015. Nothing has been heard about the ISIS sympathiser till date.
But the Turkish embassy said it won’t respond to the accusation until it is published.
The Secretary/ Personal Assistant to the Turkish ambassador, Wunmi Ayantade, told our correspondent on the telephone that the ambassador said he would react only when he sees the published report of the accusations against his mission.
She said, “I have conveyed your request for reaction to the ambassador, but he said he would not react until he sees the published report (of the Syrian accusations) in the papers.”
Daiyob stated that a large part of the 920 km border between Syria and Turkey is controlled by ISIS, terrorists, noting that terrorists’ infiltration into Syria was facilitated by the Turkish government.
He said, “I am not accusing Turkey, but the Turkish officials have announced that and their utterances are quite clear on this and most countries in the world know this fact. Even United States has mounted pressure on Turkey to stop facilitation of terrorist organisations into Syria, it is not a secret, it’s well known all over the world.”
“Most of these ISIS sympathisers were from Nigeria, they were given the Turkish visas here in Nigeria, they are given visas to Turkey not Syria. Those who applied to our embassy are not ISIS sympathisers and they don’t share that ideology. Even those Nigerian supporters of ISIS that were published in the papers reached Syria through Turkey.”
When asked to explain how he knew that visa applicants to Syria were not terror suspects and that Turkey was facilitating movement of suspected terrorists to Syria, Daiyob said his mission was experienced in the matter.
“For Nigerians, they are required to state why they are going to Syria, their sponsor, introduction letter from the government or private company the applicant is working with, information about where the person would stay in Syria and so on. The information would be sent to Damascus for approval before the visa is issued. This process doesn’t take more than two weeks,” the head of mission narrated.
According to him, majority of the terrorists in Syria entered the country through Turkey and Jordan by air, sea or land, stressing that Turkey is a crossing point for the insurgents.
He said, “Turkish/Syrian border is about 920 km and a large part of the border is under the control of terrorists supported by the Turkish government with support and facilitation from the Turkish government. That was how Turkey became a crossing point for majority of terrorists who come from all over the world.”
Asked if the embassy’s visa process is foolproof, the envoy hinted that it could be breached, “but till now, we have not received such case or breach.”
He expressed the support of his country to Nigeria, stressing that the two countries needed to collaborate to fight the security challenges facing them.
According to him, Syria has wide experience in fighting insurgency, which he said Nigeria could benefit from.
The Pakistani Ambassador to Nigeria, Lt. Gen. Agha Farooq (retd.) noted that Nigeria was a victim of Boko Haram and not the source of the insurgency, noting that Pakistan was also a victim and not the source of terrorism.
The envoy stated that his mission had issued more than 4,000 visas this year, noting that they were mainly for businessmen and those going for medical treatment, adding that the applicants were mostly Christians.