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03 December, 2021
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Nigerian students urged to avoid north

Turkish Cypriot universities could be blacklisted over ‘mysterious deaths’ of Nigerian students


Nigeria is warning its citizens not to send their children to study in the northern part of Cyprus, citing lack of “conclusive investigations” in a number of student killings who were enrolled in Turkish Cypriot universities.

(Click here for an update to the story)

According to media reports, the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) has warned Nigerian parents against sending their children to universities in the north, accusing Turkish Cypriot authorities of failing to carry out full investigations in over a dozen deaths involving students from Nigeria.

NiDCOM director Abike Dabiri-Erewa issued a statement on Monday calling on northern Cyprus to be blacklisted as a college destination. She made the statement after she met with the mother of 25-year-old Nigerian student Ibrahim Khaleel Bello who was murdered in Kyrenia.

Judge Amina Bello, Khaleel’s mother, said her son’s death should be “a tipping point to end the continuous killings of Nigerian students,” adding that she did not believe her child committed suicide, as Turkish Cypriot police had concluded. Reports said he had fallen from the seventh floor of his building.

Bello said her son, a third-year engineering student, had spoken with her hours before he was killed, while in his last message on WhatsApp he told his mom he was in fear of his life

Bello said her son, a third-year engineering student, had spoken with her hours before he was killed, while in his last message on WhatsApp he told his mom he was in fear of his life.

“Mama, please I want to come back home. Wallahi if I stay here, I will just die here without anybody batting an eyelash. I just need to come back home. Mama please try to understand that this isn’t a place for me.”

But a day following his death, which was ruled a suicide, Bello insisted her son did not commit suicide. She also said her late son was among a hundred other Nigerians killed and murdered “under mysterious circumstances” between 2016 and 2020.

There have been many reports of poor living conditions for international students in Cyprus, including the northern part which is recognized only by Turkey. Bello presented a petition to Dabiri-Erewa calling for action against authorities in the north.

According to local media, students mainly from Africa, including Nigeria, but also other countries, often find themselves in violation of visa rules after being lured to the north on false promises and end up falling on financial hardship or even violating their visa terms. Other media outlets have also reported on xenophobia and racism against foreign students, especially people from Sub-Saharan African countries.

Over a dozen unsolved deaths of Nigerian students have reportedly taken place in the north, with media reports saying some murders were allegedly committed by other foreigners.

But Bello says her son’s death was a cover-up by Turkish Cypriot authorities, including police and the school. 

The NiDCOM director said it was key that schools in the north were blacklisted, saying Khaleel’s death was part of a string of killings in the north that go unsolved or unprosecuted.

“We are going to list all these names of Nigerians that have been killed and we demand justice. There has been no prosecution and no compensation,” she told Khaleel’s mother.

“No Nigerian parent should send their children to any university in Northern Cyprus – there is a collaboration which we do not understand that makes them kill blacks, particularly our Nigerian students,” Dabiri-Erewa added.

Cyprus  |  north  |  Nigeria  |  Turkish Cypriot  |  university  |  blacklist  |  mysterious death  |  suicide  |  Bello  |  NiDCOM

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