April 8, 2017

When nations spy on their nationals on foreign soil

Ofem Uket

All democratic nations of the world are bedeviled with political wrangling, with various degrees of rivalry between political parties and opposition and constant allegations and counter allegations. Democracy is defined as the government of the people, not the government of a few political dictators ruling over a majority of the people enslaved in poverty and want without any hope of better days ahead.

Ankara has maintained that the Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen is behind the political uprisings in Turkey and has placed supporters of Gulen on surveillance, even in Nigeria, and other countries, alleged to be sympathizers of Hizmet. That country’s political quagmire has taken a different dimension, looking at the events unfolding in the last two years and the recounts of various intimidation, arrests and unlawful detention of innocent citizens alleged to be supporters of Gülen.

Turkish authorities have announced the establishment of schools and colleges in 35 countries of the World through the Mareef Foundation under the Ministry of Education and Islamic studies, to replace the existing schools established by Hizmet members in the affected countries. It is also gathered that the colleges may be tuition-free.

But no man or ruler calls the shots in another man’s domain except you are spoiling for strained international relations. No wonder some countries in Europe have banned certain Turkish government officials from their countries. German weekly magazine Der Spiegel reported that beyond the mandate given to 35 Turkish envoys to spy on its citizens, consultations with local chiefs and community leaders have commenced in earnest to convince Nigerians from doing legitimate business with Hizmet members.

The publication revealed that the diplomatic cables contain information collected by Turkish diplomatic outposts in 35 countries, making it the latest of media outlets to document spying activities involving the Turkish government recently. The government-backed espionage targeted supporters of the Gülen movement most as the article underscored: “The result is a more than 100-page compendium of suspected enemies of the state around the world, an imposing document that provides evidence of global espionage activities against suspected members of the Gülen movement.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan put the blame on the Gulen movement for the July 15 coup attempt. Embassy officials document the organizations in which Gülen supporters are active and the media they write for, the magazine said. Among the countries that Turkish government’s long arm has reached to are Japan, Mauretania, Sweden, Tanzania, Australia, Kenya, Denmark, Mongolia, Germany, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium.

How then, is Turkey washing its dirty linen in public for too long, if President Erdogan is not capable of Presidential mandate then let him resign because he has demonstrated very high level of incompetence and incapacitation by running after a group of people claimed to be in opposition.

Ironically, Nigeria is too sophisticated. They know the targeted Turks have lived in Nigeria for decades, with very high investments profile in the education, health and social sectors of the economy. They are involved in legitimate businesses duly registered and regulated by relevant agencies of government. Until they are seen to have violated the provisions of the law and specified guidelines of operations, Nigeria and Nigerians will continue to transact legitimate business with Hizmet adherents.

Turkey, I implore you to go back to the drawing board and observe the principles of democracy and the rule of law if political and presidential system which you seek to practice must be sustained.

Published on Daily Trust, 8 April 2017, Saturday