Woman faces seven years in jail because she said tomato puree was too sweet

Woman faces seven years in jail because she said tomato puree was too sweet

Chioma Okoli was arrested after making the online comments (Pictures: Wire)

A Nigerian woman is facing seven years in prison for writing a critical online review of a tomato puree.

Chioma Okoli, who has a large following on Facebook, wrote in an online review that a can of Nagiko Tomato Mix, made by Nigerian company Erisco Foods, was ‘too sweet’.

Ms Okoli, 39, asked her 18,000 followers to share their own thoughts on the tomato sauce, which produced a range of responses.

However, a woman claiming to be the brother of the tomato mix’s creator, commented on Ms Okoli’s post saying: ‘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.’

Ms Okoli replied: ‘Help me advise your brother to stop killing people with his product, yesterday was my first time of using and it’s pure sugar.’

Days after the exchange, she was arrested by Nigerian national police while in church and taken to prison.

The CEO of Erisco Foods has brought a lawsuit against her (Pictures: Wire)

Ms Okoli could face jail time or a hefty fine (Picture: Facebook)

In order to get bail, Ms Okoli was required to apologise publicly to Erisco, but her lawyer said this was under duress.

Ms Okoli was charged with conspiring with two other individuals with the intention to ‘instigate people against Erisco Foods Limited’ and ‘instigating Erisco Foods Limited, knowing the said information to be false’.

If convicted of the crimes, Ms Okoli, who is currently pregnant with her fourth child, could spend seven years in prison.

Erisco is also suing Ms Okoli in a civil lawsuit for £2.8 million, after ‘several suppliers’ stopped doing business with the company after her post.

The CEO of Erisco, Eric Umeofia, said in a news broadcast that he would ‘rather die than allow someone to tarnish my image I worked 40 years to grow.’

Ms Okoli has since launched two counter lawsuits against the company and Nigerian police.

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Her lawyer Inhibehe Effiong said the legal battle has been done ‘without regard for the security and safety of Chioma, her husband, and her entire family.’ 

Mr Effiong said of the case: ‘In this case, we believe that David is right, and Goliath is wrong.’

Ms Okoli’s case has raised questions of freedom of speech in Nigeria and been condemned by Amnesty International.

They said: ‘No one should be arrested simply for exercising their freedom of expression. The arrest of Chioma Egodi shows that, despite the authorities paying lip-service to police reforms, impunity for unlawful arrests remains rampant.’

Mr Effiong and Erisco Foods have both been contacted for comment.

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