Erisco Foods Saga Goes International: CNN and Daily Mail highlight case

Erisco Saga

The Erisco Foods versus Chioma Okoli issue has gone viral, internationally.

The American media conglomerate, CNN has highlighted the case with a publication on its global website, on Wednesday, March 27, 2024.

CNN had a headline entitled “A Nigerian woman reviewed some tomato puree online. Now she faces jail”

Here is an excerpt from the CNN Post:

A Nigerian woman who wrote an online review of a can of tomato puree is facing imprisonment after its manufacturer accused her of making a “malicious allegation” that damaged its business.

Chioma Okoli, a 39-year-old entrepreneur from Lagos, is being prosecuted and sued in civil court for allegedly breaching the country’s cybercrime laws, in a case that has gripped the West African nation and sparked protests by locals who believe she is being persecuted for exercising her right to free speech.

What did she say?

Okoli, a small-scale importer of children’s wear, told CNN that on September 17, she asked her 18,000 followers on Facebook to share their opinions about a tomato puree she bought in place of her usual brands, saying she found it too sweet.

Her post, accompanied by a photo of an opened can of Nagiko Tomato Mix, produced by local company Erisco Foods Limited, sparked varied reactions from commenters, one of whom replied: “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.”

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.”

In similar fashion, the British tabloid, Daily Mail has also made a post about the Erisco Foods sage with the headline: Nigerian woman faces seven years in prison for writing a damning online review of tomato puree.

Here is an excerpt of the post detailing the experience of Chioma Okoli in Police detention in Nigeria:

The businesswoman, who’s currently pregnant with her fourth child, was arrested by plainclothes officers from Nigeria’s national police in September while she was in church, and told CNN that she was made to stand around in a leaky cell for hours.

‘There were no seats, so I stood all through till the next day. My legs were inside the water [that came in from the leaking roof]’, she said.

‘Sometimes, I squatted to reduce the pressure on my legs. I was thinking about my children who were at home. I was talking to myself. I would think, I would pray, I was messed up,’ she added

Recall that the Erisco Foods vs Chioma Okoli matter started with a Facebook post made by Chioma Okoli on a brand of Tomato Puree produced by Erisco Foods.

Erisco Foods, makers of the Tomato paste felt it was done in bad taste and used the police to arrest and detain the reviewer, Chioma Okoli.

Okoli was arrested in Lagos and flown to Abuja where she was detained, and allegedly made to forcefully sign a rebuttal of the review.

Despite local protests and calls for the matter to be withdrawn from court, Eric Umeofia, the billionaire CEO of Erisco Foods, has vowed to carry on the case and is reported to have said: ‘ he would rather die than allow someone to tarnish my image I worked 40 years to grow.’

The matter is now in court with counter suits filed by both parties.


To Top