Africans studying various higher institutions in Cyprus under the banner of African Students in Cyprus have called on the Nigerian government to stop Nigerian youths traveling to the republic of Iran to study, warning that some of them end up being radicalized.
The students during a march to against terrorism and extremism at the University of Nicosia, Cyprus, said Nigeria faces future security risk if it continues to allow youths travel to countries where they end up being radicalized.
The President of the student group, Jeremiah Omadachi, who addressed the protest, said some youths who travel to Iran under the guise of studying are also shipped off to other countries such as Yemen and Somlia where the same fate awaits them.
The students warned the Nigerian authorities and foreign affairs ministry that the threat of radicalization by Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzakky’s Islamic Movement in Nigeria is real and should not be taken for granted by the country.
The students cited the example of underwear bomber, Abdul Mutalab.
They said it was an embarrassment to the country.
Omadichi said: “As Africans living here in Cyprus, we have followed events in Nigeria and must confess that we have great concerns about the growing sectarian division there. The names of several sects are coming up in the daily accounts being rendered online but the name of Shiite sect, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) has remained a constant.
“We are aware through contacts with other communities and nationals here that the cover that IMN and Iran use is to make youths pretend they are travelling to get education.
“The frightening reality however is that young Nigerians that travel to Iran end up being radicalised and indoctrinated into extremism. There has been indications that they are also getting military training provided by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.”
Omadichi said the Nigerian Government and other African leaders must do everything possible to prevent Iran from expanding the Middle East crisis to Africa by using IMN as a front.
According to him, the Islamic Republic must be told in very clear terms that it should sort out its problems with its regional neighbours and not attempt opening a new front in its war of attrition in Nigeria.
He said: “Our continent is too dear to us to keep quiet while Iran stokes the fire of sectarian strife.
“We appeal to the Nigerian government to immediately mount an enlightenment campaign that would educate Nigerian youths on the danger of travelling to Iran of all places in the erroneous impression that they will get useful education. They must be told of the reality of the harrowing experiences of those that have made the perilous journey.
“Some of the youths who think they will be getting education as professionals have ended up finding themselves as unwilling recruit into the Iranian terror infrastructure. Some have died in the course of being trained as terrorists while those that managed to return home to Nigeria often discover they have been fashioned into misfits.”