Mr. Obi Uchechukwu, ad hoc secretary of the Igbo community in Finland, explains to VICTOR AYENI why the community issued a press release condemning the activities of Simon Ekpa, leader of the Biafran Indigenous Peoples in Finland
What is your stance on the Biafran unrest and why did you disassociate the Igbo community in Finland from what Ekpa stands for?
As everyone knows, many of us support the agitation. We are all from Biafran. But what worries us is Simon Ekpa’s modus operandi. We all know that his style of agitation is very violent, and we want the best for our region, South East Nigeria, and we don’t want bloodshed and violence.
The rate of insecurity in south-eastern Nigeria is alarming, and we Igbo in Finland have been receiving phone calls from various sources asking where we stand on Simon Ekpa’s activities. We thought it was time for the Igbo of Finland to come together to find out where we stand, and we must stand by it.
That press release was issued after we had a meeting on December 18, which was attended by Ekpa and their ‘autopilots’. You will be surprised to know that he is now moving with his security, who is armed with a gun, and before he could get to the meeting place, our own security at the gate asked him to drop the gun before they could to get. inside, and it took him quite a while to comply. We knew that the meeting, if not careful, could escalate into violence, so the government here gave us papers and we got our own security guards.
We asked him several questions bordering on his activities, and the reason we even called the meeting was because of his incessant orders like the sit-in at home, which Nnamdi Kanu had already cancelled, and also because of his constant pronouncement that there was no there will be no no elections in south-eastern Nigeria and no political gatherings.
We did not agree with these two statements, and so we called this meeting to ask him face to face if he meant what he said, and he vividly told us that he was not going to back down, that he would stand by his orders and continue issuing the orders. to stay at home.
And we all know that whenever you issue the sit-at-home order from Finland here, all those criminal elements in Nigeria will take that opportunity to kill and attack people who defy their orders.
What was the result of that meeting? Were there arguments or back and forth scenarios that tried to convince Ekpa to change his methods or words?
The first meeting was held on Saturday, December 17 and was a virtual (online) meeting, which I attended. Ekpa hosted the meeting, and we allowed him to do so, so that he would feel comfortable. He was asked several questions and his answers were not convincing. That is why we decided to hold the physical meeting the next day.
Before that, the commander of the Ekpa Biafran Indigenous People here in Finland, a man who calls himself Clement Anyaegbu, made an audio message ordering all ‘autopilots’ to come to the meeting place to fight and destroy things and make sure the meeting didn’t take place. I have all your audio messages with me and can even post one.
In another audio message leaked by this same Anyaegbu, he mentioned some names of Igbo men here in Finland and said that he would send their phone numbers to some people in Nigeria so they could deal with them.
At the meeting, Ekpa was asked questions that bordered on three main things: the stay-at-home order, the non-election in Biafraland, and the constant threats towards those who are against what they stand for.
According to a report, he claimed that the five-day sit-at-home order he issued, which resulted in the loss of life and property, was a test and that he will issue another sit-in before the presidential election. internal order, which could be long, and insists that there will be no elections in all of south-eastern Nigeria. These did not sit well with all of us at the meeting that day.
I was taking minutes as ad hoc secretary and the meeting almost degenerated into chaos. So Ekpa left with all his followers, the ‘autopilots’. That’s when the progressives now sat down and we had our meeting, and we introduced this resolution in that press release.
Since the press release was issued, there have been hateful comments from Ekpa’s supporters, and many of them have been sharing photos of key members of their group in Finland on social media, labeling them “spoilers” and “criminals”. . Have you received threats since the press release was issued? Are you worried that their lives may be in danger since you share the same country with Simon and his followers?
Yes, my life is in danger. That photo being shared is of me, and they mentioned my name, and even had the guts to include the name of my city in that photo, indicating that I am the one who wrote and published the press release. I’ve been seeing the photos everywhere. I want it to be recorded that I have reported this matter to the Finnish police. I have also filed criminal charges against Clement Anyaegbu and Simon Ekpa.
Several other people have done the same, and as I said earlier, there is an audio message in which Anyaegbu says that he is going to deal with certain people whose names he mentioned. This is a big problem.
They put out their own press release on their website yesterday to counter what we put out, and they also included my picture and that of our president, Kingsley Orji. They also put our town and our real names, and do you know what that means?
Fortunately no media house in Nigeria published such nonsense. It was when I saw him that I went to the Finnish police to file criminal charges, and we have more to do to contain these guys here. My life is at risk.
Do you think these petitions to the Finnish government could affect the residential status of Nigerians in Finland as a result of this perplexing issue?
I don’t think so because I am an influential person here, I am already in the media and I have never committed any crime in Finland, although I cannot speak for others.
But invariably, I don’t think it affects us. I think most of us who are pushing this cause don’t have skeletons in our closets.
Has the Finnish consulate contacted you, or have you contacted them, to discuss these issues?
We do not have. I think so because I also follow what is happening in Nigeria. The Berekete family called the Finnish embassy in Nigeria about two or three weeks ago, and their host told the Finnish embassy representative that if they didn’t want to do anything about Simon Ekpa, he would lead a protest of angry Nigerians at the Finns. . Embassy in Abuja so that Simon Ekpa could be brought to justice.
As it is, no one has contacted me or the president, or the embassy or the government, but we have our plans. You know, this press release is just the first thing we have done to let Nigerians know our stance to disassociate and distance ourselves from Ekpa.
We also have other plans that we are going to carry out in the next few weeks that will attract the attention of the Finnish government.
Do you think Ekpa could suffer the same fate as Nnamdi Kanu, extradited to Nigeria and accused of crimes against humanity?
I don’t know because, first of all, he is a Finnish citizen like many of us. I don’t know how Finnish law works in relation to that. Since we are from the same place, we have a voice, and as one of the boys who attended the meeting said: “Only the Igbo in Finland can stop Ekpa from doing what he is doing, because we are here with him and we live in Finland. legally”.
So the government should listen to us, know what the problem is and investigate the matter.
Ekpa’s fundamental right to expression will not be violated, but he must calm down and examine the impact of what he is doing. Many Igbo men who are now in Nigeria for Christmas were unable to travel. They can’t cross the Niger bridge from Asaba for fear of being killed by these guys in the southeast.