Claim: A viral letter accredited to the Finland government issued a 48-hour ultimatum to Simon Ekpa to desist from encouraging Nigerians to boycott the election.
Verdict: FALSE. The viral letter attributed to the Government of Finland warning Simon Ekpa did not originate from the Finnish Government.
Simon Ekpa, a Nigerian-Finish and factional leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has been at the forefront of the Biafran agitation.
He had repeatedly declared sit-at-home orders across the South-east, insisting there would be no election in the region in 2023.
On Tuesday, February 14, 2023, the Finnish Ambassador to Nigeria, Leena Pylvanainen, was summoned by Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs over threats by Biafra agitator Simon Ekpa to stop the 2023 general election in Nigeria’s south-east.
Following this, the image of a letter warning Mr Ekpa accredited to the Finland Government went viral Thursday, February 16, 2023.
According to the letter, Finland’s prime minister purportedly gave a 48-hour ultimatum to Simon Ekpa, a Nigerian-Finish headliner in the Southeast Biafra agitation, to desist from encouraging Nigerians to boycott the upcoming general elections.
It was shared by Adamu Garba, the Deputy Director, Media of the All Progressives Congress, Independent Presidential Campaign Council (APC PCC), noting Mr Ekpa is on his way to the Nigerian prison.
Mr Garba’s post shared nine hours ago has garnered 139,000 views, 723 likes, 225 retweets and 57 quotes.
The vitality of this post and the sensitive nature of the issue called for verification.
The Government of Finland has disowned the letter attributed to its prime minister, Sanna Marin, purportedly asking the Nigerian-Finish lawyer to withdraw some controversial comments about the upcoming Nigerian general elections.
Finland’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Leena Pylvänäinen, in a phone interview with PREMIUM TIMES, on Thursday, said, “it is a complete fake but unfortunately has spread very widely sadly.”
PREMIUM TIMES also spotted the inconsistency in how Mr Ekpa’s last name was spelt. In the salutation, it was correctly written as “Ekpa”, but in the body, it was written as “Ikpa”. The uncivil tone of the letter was also among other features that discredited the letter.
Ms Pylvänäinen noted that her team had been busy trying to correct this false information. The first tweet was taken down by Twitter when they were alerted by authorities in Helsinki, Finland.
“Sadly, retweets and screenshots now appear on different media,” she said, adding that it was sad that many media houses had taken the letter at face value and distributed it.
Ms Pylvänäinen reiterated that both countries (Finland and Nigeria) have been in communication regarding Mr Ekpa.
She noted that Finland, as part of the EU, attaches importance to the upcoming Nigeria election and is committed to supporting the authorities to ensure they are carried out safely and securely in all parts of the country.
“This is very much a shared interest and concern, and we do not condone any violence or incitement to violence or any calls to stop the election. That is, of course, unacceptable,” Ms Pylvänäinen said.
The viral letter attributed to the government of Finland warning Simon Ekpa is false as it did not originate from the Government of Finland.
This report was written by TheCable and republished by DUBAWA as part of the Nigerian Fact-checkers’ Coalition initiative. Here’s the original piece.