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Nigerian Woman Gets Two Charge Counts for Criticizing Local Food Maker

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By Jaden Francis - - 5 Mins Read
Photo mix of Chioma Okoli selfie photo posted on Facebook and photo of stacks of tomato paste products
Chioma Okoli/Erisco tomato products | Chioma Egodi Jnr/Facebook

A Nigerian woman, Chioma Okoli, finds herself mixed up in an unexpected legal battle after expressing discontent with a can of tomato puree produced by Erisco Foods Limited, a local food manufacturer.

What began as a simple online review turned into a complex ordeal.

Okoli's experience began when she took to Facebook to share her thoughts on Erisco's Nagiko Tomato Mix.

In her post, she expressed disappointment with the product's sweetness, sparking a discussion among her followers.

However, things took a serious turn when Okoli responded to a comment criticizing the product's quality.

“Stop spoiling my brother product, if you don’t like it, use another one than bring it to social media or call the customer service Erisco Foods Limited,” the viral comment said.

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

Okoli's post and her comments on her Facebook page, where over 18,000 people follow her, led to her eventual arrest by plainclothes officers from Nigeria's national police.

Okoli later faced criminal charges under Nigeria's cybercrime laws. She was accused of instigating public outrage against Erisco Foods Limited, with potential penalties including imprisonment for up to three years or a substantial fine.

Additionally, she was charged with conspiring with others to stir people against the company, which could result in a seven-year prison sentence if convicted.

Moreover, Erisco Foods Limited took legal action against Okoli, filing a civil lawsuit seeking damages of over $3 million.

The company claimed that Okoli's remarks had caused harm to its reputation and business, leading to several suppliers severing ties with them.

New York Post reports that the Nigerian police accused Chioma Okoli of using social media “with the intention of instigating people against Erisco Foods.”

This legal action intensified the situation, creating a David vs. Goliath scenario as Okoli fought against the food company and the police.


A photo of Chioma Okoli
Chioma Okoli | Chioma Egodi Jnr/Facebook


Throughout this ordeal, Okoli faced various challenges, including being held in a leaky cell and pressured to apologize as a condition of her release on bail.

“I was put in the cell around 6 p.m. There were no seats, so I stood all through till the next day. My legs were inside the water...

...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,” Okoli said about her cell situation.

Despite these difficulties, she remained steadfast in her refusal to apologize, maintaining that her actions were within her rights to free speech.

Her case gathered both local and international attention, with organizations like Amnesty International condemning the harassment and intimidation she faced.


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The controversy surrounding Okoli's case also sparked public outrage and calls for sanctions on Erisco Foods Limited products.

Critics have questioned the company's actions, arguing that their pursuit of legal action against Okoli only further damaged their reputation.

Furthermore, concerns were raised about the broader implications for freedom of speech in Nigeria, where individuals could face severe consequences for expressing their opinions online.

However, as it appears, the management of Erisco Foods are firm in their desire to have Chioma Okolie face legal penalties for her review.

In an interview with Arise TV, the founder of the food company, Eric Umeofia has stated blatantly, "I would rather die than allow someone tarnish my image I worked forty years to grow"

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Chioma Okoli, a mother of three and currently pregnant with her fourth child, is preparing to defend herself in court. Due to the charges against her in this case, Okoli could be imprisoned for up to 7 years or fined 5 billion naira ($3 million).

Eventually, the outcome of Okoli's case will not only impact her future but also set an example for how freedom of speech is upheld in Nigeria.