The Finnish police have explained the conditions surrounding the arrest of Simon Ekpa, the controversial Nigerian who has advocated the use of violence to scuttle elections in Nigeria’s south-east.
According to an official statement shared with PREMIUM TIMES by the Finnish embassy in Nigeria, Mr Ekpa was arrested as part of an investigation by Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation into a suspected money collection offence.
“The National Bureau of Investigation has started a criminal investigation into a suspected money collection offence committed by a man living in Lahti. The suspect was apprehended in Lahti yesterday on 23 February,” the statement said.
PREMIUM TIMES reported Mr Ekpa’s arrest on Thursday by Finnish police. He was later released Thursday night. Although the statement did not explicitly state the name of the arrested person, the description matched details from news reports of Thursday.
According to the Head of Investigation of the National Bureau of Investigation, Tommi Reen, the police have investigated the case since 2022, but the actual criminal investigation was opened at the beginning of February.
“It is suspected that the man living in Lahti has collected money in violation of the Money Collection Act. We have interviewed the suspect, but the criminal investigation is still at an early stage,” he said.
Mr Reen confirmed that Mr Ekpa (the suspect) was released Thursday night, perhaps because the investigation was still ongoing.
He added that the police have also received many reports of Mr Ekpa’s actions on social media and are investigating whether there are reasons to suspect him of other offences.
The police said they will release more information about the case as investigations go on.
The Nigerian government had requested the arrest of Mr Ekpa, who resides in Finland and also has citizenship in the European country.
The Nigerian government accuses Mr Ekpa of using social media to instigate violence in the South-east that has caused the killing of many people and the destruction of properties.
Mr Ekpa, as part of his online campaign, had declared a sit-at-home in the South-east for the period of the presidential elections, ostensibly to bar people from participating in the voting process.
The previous sit-at-home declared by the factional leader of the separatist group IPOB had been enforced by the armed wing of the group leading to the loss of lives and properties.
READ ALSO: Simon Ekpa, pro-Biafra agitator, arrested in Finland
IPOB, an outlawed separatist group, wants a separate nation of Biafra for the Igbos of Southern Nigeria and is prepared to use violence to achieve its aims.
The group is, however, believed to be a fringe group that does not enjoy the support of a majority of the Igbos. Its overall leader, who Mr Ekpa worked with, Nnamdi Kanu, is currently in detention in Nigeria where he is facing trial on charges of treason.
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