Shocking Legal Battle Unfolds Over Nigerian Woman’s Tomato Puree Review

By Amit Agrawal

Published on:


Introduction: A Nigerian woman, Chioma Okoli, finds herself embroiled in a legal battle after posting an online review of a can of tomato puree. The review, which criticized the product’s quality, has led to accusations of defamation and breaches of cybercrime laws, prompting widespread debate over freedom of speech in Nigeria.

What Did She Say?: Okoli, a 39-year-old entrepreneur from Lagos, shared her opinion about Nagiko Tomato Mix, produced by Erisco Foods Limited, on Facebook. She expressed dissatisfaction with the product, describing it as “pure sugar.” Her comment sparked a contentious exchange with other users, leading to her subsequent arrest.

Legal Proceedings: The Nigeria Police Force has charged Okoli under cybercrime laws, alleging that her Facebook post instigated negative sentiment against Erisco Foods. If convicted, Okoli faces imprisonment of up to three years or a hefty fine. Additionally, she is facing a civil lawsuit from Erisco Foods seeking damages totaling 5 billion naira.

Arrest and Detention: Okoli’s arrest occurred while she was attending church, followed by a harrowing experience of detention in a leaky police cell. Despite her release on bail, she faced continued harassment from law enforcement, with attempts to arrest her at her home, in defiance of a court order.

Legal Defense and Counteraction: Okoli’s legal team, led by lawyer Inibehe Effiong, has launched a countersuit against both Erisco Foods and the police, citing violations of her constitutional rights. Effiong argues that Okoli’s arrest and detention infringed upon her freedom of expression and personal liberty. They are also seeking to transfer the cybercrime case to Lagos, where Okoli resides.

Challenges and Public Support: Legal experts suggest that proving cybercrime allegations can be challenging, particularly regarding demonstrating tangible harm caused by online posts. Nonetheless, Okoli’s case has garnered significant public support, with Amnesty International Nigeria condemning her harassment and Nigerians rallying online to cover her legal expenses.

Company’s Stance and Public Response: Despite mounting pressure and calls for a boycott on social media, Erisco Foods remains steadfast in pursuing legal action against Okoli. Eric Umeofia, the company’s founder, asserts his commitment to defending the company’s reputation, emphasizing the importance of accountability.

Conclusion: Chioma Okoli’s case highlights the complex intersection of free speech and legal accountability in the digital age. As the legal proceedings unfold, the outcome will have far-reaching implications for online expression and consumer rights in Nigeria.

Amit Agrawal I am a Marathi Blogger, Owner/Founder of 4 Years of Professional Blogging experience.

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