April 19. 2024. 8:33

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Human rights activist causes diplomatic tension between Finland, Nigeria


The actions of a human rights campaigner and separatist leader Simon Ekpa, also a Finnish citizen and local politician, have resulted in a diplomatic wrestling match between Finland and Nigeria.

As the general elections in Nigeria are fast approaching, Simon Ekpa, a former sprinter who became a local politician for the liberal-conservative National Coalition Party in the Finnish city of Lahti after obtaining his citizenship, has ignited a feud between the two countries.

The “human rights activist, CEO, senior legal advisor at Ekpa & Co, legal researcher, author, analyst, Finnish politician, Biafra Spokesperson” according to his Twitter bio, is now advocating the independence of an area of some 20 million people in Nigeria.

Vocal on social media, Ekpa has urged the mostly Christian Igbo people in the Biafra region to demonstrate and boycott elections he views as not being free. By drawing international attention and increasing pressure on the Nigerian government, he wants to push for a referendum on Biafra’s independence.

“There is no amount of carnage by the Nigeria terrorist state that will stop Biafra from exiting Nigeria this year,” Ekpa recently tweeted as accusations of inciting violence and harassment between the Nigerian government and Ekpa’s movement ‘The Indigenous People of Biafra’ (IPOB) have been flying high.

The Nigerian Foreign Ministry has already summoned the Finnish Ambassador and demanded Finland take action against Ekpa’s broadcasting.

According to Finland, however, voicing one’s political opinion should be viewed as a constitutional right with regard to which authorities only intervene in case of suspected criminal activities.

Relations between Finland and Nigeria have been tense for some time, particularly as Biafra, when it was independent of Nigeria from 1967 to 1970, adopted the Finnish national anthem after Biathra’s cause gained a lot of sympathy in Finland.

(Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)