The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday summoned the Finnish Ambassador to Nigeria, Leena Pylvanainen, over “hate speech and incitive comments” by a Nigerian-Finnish lawyer and Biafra agitator, Simon Ekpa.
The Ekpa-led faction of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra had reportedly declared that elections will not be allowed to hold in the South-East and had ordered sit-at-home during elections.
At the meeting with Pylvanainen, Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, said Ekpa’s action was fast becoming a threat to the forthcoming election, and that the Federal Government would not take it lightly with him and the Finland government if nothing drastic is done.
The minister, who was represented by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada, noted that Ekpa is living in the comfort of his home in Finland and dishing out dangerous orders to his followers not to allow elections to hold in South-Eastern Nigeria.
Dada explained “We thought it was important for us to have this chat with you to let you know that, of course, he is living in the comfort of his home there in Finland and we know that we have been in touch with your good self.
“We have had some time to ensure that we arrest this situation but it appears the situation is getting out of hand. And we are saying enough is enough. We should let you know, in very strong terms that it is high time you really back Nigeria with the quest that something is done immediately because he threatens the forthcoming elections.
“The sad thing is that this gentleman has a lot of followers out there. And the moment he issues these instructions, what happens is that you have destructions the very next day. They embark on killings and burning and you name it. And we believe this is not acceptable.
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“It’s important to get to know that these elections are being threatened by the actions of someone and that something needs to be done immediately, to address the situation. This in essence is why we thought it was important for us to have this discussion with you, so as to let you know our concerns and the displeasure of the Government of Nigeria and the people of Nigeria on this very unhealthy development.”
Responding, Pylvanainen said that while they are watching to see how this fits into the legal framework of Finland, the personality in question is a double citizen and there is a need to take his rights into consideration.
“This is something I want to make very, very clear. Finland condemns all violence and incitement to violence in all its forms. Political aims, of course, should be pursued through political means only. That is very clear.
“It stems from the fundamentals of our actions, it’s enshrined in our constitution, and we do really underline our support and the importance we see for these elections not only for Nigeria but for the entire region. So we’re with you very much on that.
“We share very much the concerns regarding the security situation in the South-East. Yes, there are problems in other parts of the country as well. But this is an issue that we are directly concerned with. This is an issue we have been discussing, we share the concerns. We have discussed the matter and as I mentioned, our law enforcement agencies are in touch and are cooperating.”
“Also, he’s a double citizen as far as I know of Nigeria and Finland, and he’s therefore as you rightly said, protected and safe and sound in his home in Finland. But we have to take his rights into consideration as well. So everything has to obviously be done according to Finnish legislation, which has very strong protections for freedom of speech.”