A viral letter on social media claims that the Finnish government has threatened to arrest Simon Ekpa, a self-acclaimed disciple of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Recently, videos emerged on Facebook of Ekpa pronouncing a sit-at-home order in the eastern states of the country from February 23 to 28.
“On the 23rd day of February 2023, there will be a sit-at-home. On the 24th day of February 2023, there will be a lockdown in the entire Biafra territory. On the 25th day of February 2023, Biafra land will be under lock and key. On the 26th of February 2023, Biafra land will be sealed and will be under the lock of key, there will be no movement of chicken. On the 27th of February 2023, Biafra land will be under total lock and key. On the 28th of February 2023, Biafra land will be under lock and key,” Ekpa said in a broadcast.
“I want Biafrans to understand that these particular dates and days are still subject to review, review in the sense that the sit at home may be called off at any point in time. In addition to the affirmation dates, there will be an imposition of curfew on two of those days – on the 24th and 25th of February 2023. In addition to the sit-at-home, there will be a six-to-six curfew.
“There will be an imposition of curfew on all federal roads in the following areas: all federal roads leading to Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo state.
“I want Biafrans to understand that on these days mentioned, it will be an open war between Biafra and Nigeria because we are fighting to protect our life, our property, our villages, our cultures and values. So, anybody who the Nigerian government send to come and fight Biafra, we will engage you.”
.@simon_ekpa continues to use Finland as a base to destabilise Nigeria, particularly the South Eastern part of Nigeria. He's directly supervising violent insurrection.
Petitions to @TPKanslia and @EUinNigeria are being ignored and @GeoffreyOnyeama isn't raising same with the EU. pic.twitter.com/tBTQKg8yYb
— Káyọ̀dé Ògúndámisí 🇳🇬 (@ogundamisi) February 13, 2023
Peace mediation? Finland is an active host to a Terrorist who has been directing attacks in South East Nigeria and issuing instruction to restrict the rights of citizens to free movement.
Your government is paying lip service to Peace by your continued protection of Simon Ekpa. pic.twitter.com/n7PQ74eMQB
— Káyọ̀dé Ògúndámisí 🇳🇬 (@ogundamisi) February 16, 2023
The presidential and national assembly elections are slated to hold on February 25.
A few days after the video emerged on social media, a letter purportedly from the Finnish government surfaced on social media, warning the IPOB spokesperson to withdraw the sit-at-home order.
The letter allegedly signed by Sanna Marin, Finnish prime minister, and dated February 15 2023, claimed that Ekpa would be arrested and charged with international terrorism if the order is not reversed within 48 hours.
In a tweet which has now been deleted but archived by TheCable, Adamu Garba, former senator and ex-presidential aspirant, lauded the Finnish government for placing an eye on Ekpa.
“Simon Ekpa is on his way to Nigerian Prison. The Finnish authorities are after him. He’s now under global surveillance I tell you this & is a promise: There is no enemy of this country that will ever succeed. The worst fruitless struggle is that which is targeted against Nigeria,” he tweeted.
The tweet had over 135.5k views, 704 likes and 218 retweets.
“Finland’s prosecutor General Raija Toiviainen is not the lady to mess around with. Simon Ekpa you are in serious trouble, you can ask the US government,” said another Twitter user.
But did the Finnish government author the viral letter?
To verify the authenticity of the circulating letter, TheCable used two open-source tools, InVid and Forensically.
The letter was first subjected to InVid, an open-source video and image-verifying tool, to determine the document’s integrity.
Using the robust copy-move forgery detector (RCMFD) which InVid provides, traces of cloning were found on the image. The detector links objects or texts not originally on the document with red lines.
The wavelet of the image was also subjected to InVid.
Each image carries invisible, high-frequency noise as a result of the capturing process and compression. To show authentic wavelets, regions that differ from the rest of the image are highlighted and are likely to originate from other images.
Likewise, an error-level analysis of the image using the open-source intelligence (OSINT) tool, Forensically, shows that the letter shared is a doctored image combining two different images.
RESPONSE FROM THE FINNISH GOVERNMENT
TheCable also placed a call to the Finnish embassy in Nigeria to verify if the letter emanated from the government, however, the country distanced itself from the claims.
In a statement sent to TheCable, Ima Edem, media officer to the Finnish government, said the letter was not from the country.
“The letter purporting to be signed by the Prime Minister of Finland and currently circulating widely in the media does not originate from the Finnish government,” she said.
“We have reported the Twitter message, with which this fake letter was originally distributed, and asked Twitter to remove it.”
The viral letter threatening Ekpa with arrest and charges of international terrorism is not from the Finnish government.
This article was produced with mentorship from the African Academy for Open Source Investigations (AAOSI), to tackle disinformation that undermines our democracies, as part of an initiative by the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) and Code for Africa (CfA). Visit https://disinfo.africa/ for more information.
More from Editor Picks
A video on Facebook showing authorities opening suitcases full of money has claimed that former Gabonese senate president attempted to …
A video clip posted by Hichief Sunny Odogwu, a Facebook user, claimed that the tribunal has declared Kennedy Pela, candidate …
In the build-up to the 2023 general election in Nigeria, a couple of unfamiliar news websites sprang up with the …