By: Rajini KG
February 20 2023
Finland's ambassador to Nigeria clarified that the viral letter is fake and not issued by the Finnish government.
Presidential and National Assembly elections will be held in Nigeria on February 25, 2023, while State governorship and House of Assembly elections will be held on March 11, 2023.
Ahead of the elections, Simon Ekpa, a Nigerian-Finnish lawyer, political activist, and self-proclaimed member of a nationalist separatist group called Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), called for a five-day "sit-at-home" protest in a video uploaded to YouTube in December 2022. In the video, he also called for a boycott of the 2023 Nigeria elections with another sit-in. This is not the first time he has announced such a protest; in May 2022, he announced a three-day sit-in demanding the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB.
In February 2023, a letter began circulating on social media claiming that the Finnish government has cautioned Ekpa that his call asking people to stay at home on voting days could upset the peace and result in violence in Nigeria and called it an act of terrorism. The letter, dated February 15, 2023, appears to be signed by Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Mirella Marin and states that Ekpa has 48 hours to reverse his call for protest or face arrest.
However, this letter is fake. The Finnish ambassador to Nigeria clarified it was forged and was not issued by the Finnish government. Simon Ekpa also dismissed the reports of the Finland government issuing a warning letter over his call for a sit-at-home.
Our research led us to reports of IPOB dismissing calls to boycott the 2023 election in Nigeria on February 3, 2023. According to the Nigerian newspaper The Guardian, Emma Powerful, an IPOB spokesman, stated that IPOB has no plans to impose a "sit-at-home" mandate during the upcoming elections.
Finnish Ambassador to Nigeria, Leena Pylvänäinen, posted the viral letter on her official Twitter account and wrote, "Please note: This letter does not originate from the Government of Finland."
Ekpa also took to Twitter on February 16, 2023, to reject the letter. He wrote that "My attention has been drawn to the fake letter being shared by desperate Nig criminals. Please disregard it, Nig is known for forgery, scam, internet fraud, crimes & that's why we are fighting to exit such evil foundation, a country that its citizens make living through forgery (sic)."
Ima Edem, Media Officer of the Finnish Embassy in Nigeria, confirmed to BBC Pidgin that the letter is fake. "The letter, purporting to be signed by the Prime Minister of Finland and currently circulating widely in the media, did not originate from the Finnish government," it said. Therefore, this confirms that the Finnish government has not issued an arrest warning to Simon Ekpa.
The Finnish government has clarified that the purported letter warning Simon Ekpa of arrest is fake. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.