Woman who left a negative review on tomato puree is now facing jail after being arrested

A woman is facing jail for writing a negative review about tomato puree online.

In September 2023, 39-year-old Chioma Okoli took to Facebook to air her grievances about a can of tomato puree she’d used.

Shortly after, she was arrested for allegedly breaking Nigeria’s cybercrime laws and is being sued by the company of the puree she criticized.

In light of her being arrested and sued by the food company, some people have been protesting and have boycotted the brand’s products.

On September 17, Okoli took to Facebook to express her concerns about how sweet Erisco Food Limited’s tomato puree was.

She wrote: “I went to but Tin tomatoes yesterday that I will use to make stew, but didn’t see my favourites, so I decided to buy this one.

“When I opened it, I decided to taste it omo! Sugar is juat too much! Haa biko let me know if you hav used this tin tomato before because this is an ikegwuru situation! [sic]”.

Her post generated over 3,000 comments at the time, according to Erisco Foods.

One person said: “Stop spoiling my brother’s product. If [you] don’t like it, use another one than bring it to social media or call the customer service.”

To which Okoli responded: “Help me advise your brother to stop ki***ing people with his product, yesterday was my first time of using and it’s pure sugar.”

Chioma Okoli could face jail time.

Arise News

When and why was she arrested?

On September 24, just days after writing the post, Okoli was arrested. In police records seen by CNN, it was said that she used her Facebook page ‘with the intention of instigating people against Erisco Foods’.

Okoli’s said to have been charged with ‘instigating Erisco Foods Limited, knowing the said information to be false under Section 24 (1) (B) of Nigeria’s Cyber Crime Prohibition Act’.

If found guilty, she could face up to three years in jail or a fine of 7 million naira (around $5,000), or both, CNN reports.

In addition to this, Erisco Foods have filed a separate civil lawsuit against the woman.

In an update shared in January 2024, the food company penned to its Facebook: “Erisco Foods Limited did not initiate Chioma’s supposed rearrest. However, we have filed an N5 Billion lawsuit against her, which is yet to take effect primarily due to challenges in serving her with the required legal documents, exacerbated by her consistent evasion of court service.

“The company’s choice to take legal action against Chioma primarily stemmed from the need to safeguard the brand and the company’s reputation. Chioma’s retaliatory remarks about our product, ‘Nagiko Tomato Mix,’ resulted in several suppliers deciding to disassociate themselves from us. Additionally, the company suffered the loss of multiple credit lines.”

They are looking for 5 billion naira (more than $3 million) in damages in the case that’s set to be heard on May 20.

Okoli’s countersuit

Okoli’s legal team filed a 500 million naira ($361,171) countersuit on her behalf against both the police and Erisco Foods in October.

Her lawyers says her ‘constitutional rights to personal liberty and freedom of movement’ were violated when she was arrested and detained.

Okoli is next due in court on April 18 for her arraignment.