- Yle has reported that Simon Ekpa, a Lahti-based self-proclaimed lawyer, is under scrutiny for falsely representing himself as a legal practitioner.
- He has advertised his law firm, Ekpa & Co, as providing legal services and consultation, despite not being qualified as a licensed lawyer in Finland.
- Yle reports that Ekpa has been serving African immigrants and asylum seekers, who have mistaken him for a lawyer.
- Complaints from clients have led to the administrative court taking action against him and his ex-wife Marianne Säkäjärvi, who is an actual lawyer.
- Ekpa claims he never posed as a lawyer and that his clients misunderstood his role.
Yle, the national public broadcaster of Finland, has exposed Simon Ekpa, a former athlete, deputy representative of the coalition, and self-proclaimed lawyer, for falsely claiming to be a licensed lawyer in Finland.
Ekpa & Co., his law firm located in Lahti’s Trio shopping center, promises legal services, consultation, and interpretation on its brass sign outside the door. However, Ekpa himself has confirmed that he has never claimed to be a lawyer and that it is a smear campaign by disappointed customers.
The confusion has resulted in complaints being made about him and his ex-wife, lawyer Marianne Säkäjärvi, to the supervisory board, and their actions have been dealt with in the administrative court.
Ekpa does not have the qualifications of a licensed lawyer in Finland, and he cannot act as a legal assistant for asylum seekers in court with public funds.
Yle has talked to several asylum seekers who have mistaken Ekpa for a lawyer. The real side of the matter has only been revealed to them after they have seen the documents concerning them. They were signed by a name unknown to them, Marianne Säkäjärvi, instead of Ekpa.
The Board of Education in Finland has also confirmed that Ekpa’s LL.M. Master of Laws degree does not correspond to a Finnish master’s degree in law. It should be assessed based on the exact content and scope of the education to determine what the degree title would equate to in Finland.
According to volunteers who help asylum seekers, Ekpa was a man who spoke Finnish well and handed out his business cards at reception centers. Word about the nice and well-dressed “lawyer Simon” spread quickly.
The young man, whose name is Afghan Rahman, heard about Ekpa from a friend and was impressed by his office. Rahman was in a hurry to find a lawyer as his family had received a negative decision on their asylum application from the administrative court and needed a legal assistant.
Rahman claims that Ekpa went through their documents and assured them that the decision of the Immigration Office was incorrect and that he would take care of things. However, at no point did Ekpa say that he was not a lawyer.
Ekpa’s law office specializes in immigration issues and was founded in 2015. At that time, tens of thousands of immigrants arrived in Finland. The customers were mostly West African asylum seekers.
Before the separation, Ekpa had a small joint law office with Säkäjärvi in Lahti, where the word started circulating in the reception centers that there was a black person familiar with legal matters.
Ekpa understood the language and the plight of asylum seekers, explained what the police might ask during interrogations, which information is essential for obtaining asylum, and how important a passport is in terms of obtaining citizenship.
Ekpa completed a Master of Laws degree in human rights and human rights jurisprudence at Aberystwyth University and graduated in December 2015 via distance learning.
He had already familiarized himself with the legal field during an internship and as a partner in Säkäjärvi’s law office. After the divorce, Ekpa founded his own company, and Säkäjärvi started subcontracting services to him.
There are several known cases in which Säkäjärvi herself has not met the asylum seeker, but Ekpa has worked as a legal assistant for his clients in the legal process.
Featured image: Marianne Säkäjärvi and Simon Ekpa are former spouses and business partners. Photo: Janne Nykänen / Yle
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