Pregnant mother faces seven years in prison for online review of tomato puree product

The remarks have led to a national scandal in Nigeria in a battle her legal team have dubbed David V Goliath

Lydia Patrick
Thursday 28 March 2024 16:45 GMT
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A pregnant woman is facing seven years behind bars for slamming tomato puree on Facebook.

Chioma Okoli, 39, a businesswoman from Lagos, is facing criminal prosecution and being sued after she said a renowned brand of canned tomato puree was too sweet.

On 17 September the active social media user shared her critique of the sauce alongside a photo of an opened can of the Erisco Foods product and asked her following to share their opinions, CNN reports.

One commenter 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.”

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.’

The mother had criticised the tomato puree (via Facebook)

A week later, on September 24, she was arrested whilst she attended church and told CNN she was locked in a “leaky police cell”.

“There were no seats, so I stood all through till the next day,” she said. “My legs were inside the water (that came in from the leaking roof).

“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 said.

The mother-of-three was charged with conspiring with two other individuals with ‘the intention of instigating people against Ericso Foods Limited’.

The following day, Ms Okali was flown to the Nigerian capital Abuja and held at a police station before being released on administrative bail a day later, CNN reported.

She was also charged with ‘instigating Erisco Foods Limited, knowing the said information to be false’, a crime that could end with her going to prison for three years and a fine of seven million naira (£3,950). She has filed two countersuits against thepolice and Ericso and her legal team have coined the battle “David Vs Goliath”.

Ms Okoli, who is pregnant with her fourth child, refused to publicly apologise to Ericso, which was a condition of her bail, since her lawyer told the news outlet she would be apologising under duress.

In an explosive interview, Ericso CEO Eric Umeofia told broadcasters that he would ‘rather die than allow someone to tarnish my image I worked 40 years to grow.’

The Independent has contacted Ericso for comment

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