A woman in Nigeria is facing three years in prison after reviewing a can of tomato puree

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Published Jun 10, 2024 at 01:11 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

A woman in Nigeria was arrested last year after posting a review of Nagiko tomato puree on her Facebook business page. On September 16, 2023, Chioma Okoli, who had purchased the puree at a street market in Sangotedo, Lagos, commented that it tasted more sugary than other products and asked her followers for their opinions. This one post sparked various reactions, including a defensive comment accusing her of damaging the product’s reputation. What proceeded was a series of events that changed Okoli’s life forever.

According to Al Jazeera, following Okoli’s post, one user responded with the statement: “Stop spoiling my brother’s product, if [you] don’t like it, use another one then bring it to social media…”

Retorting this, Okoli suggested that the owner of the company, Erisco Foods, should stop killing people with the products. This exchange quickly escalated, generating over 2,500 comments and responses in just two days.

A few days later, on 24 September, Okoli was arrested while leaving the church with her husband, having been approached by three individuals claiming to be police officers. They took her to Ogudu police station, where she was presented with more than 20 pages of charges. The 39-year-old mother of three was then accused of extortion, blackmail, and running a syndicate.

According to legal documents reviewed by CNN, the Nigeria Police Force accused Okoli of using her Facebook account “with the intention of instigating people against Erisco Foods.” In a statement on 7 March, the police asserted that their preliminary investigations had “unearthed compelling evidence” against her.

Okoli’s case is part of a troubling trend in Nigeria where cybercrime laws, originally designed to protect against cyber threats, are used to suppress journalists, activists, and ordinary citizens from expressing their opinions. In fact, in recent years, the act has been employed to imprison several individuals, including the publisher of a series on financial accountability, a journalist who reported on alleged corruption at Sterling Bank of Nigeria, and a website owner who claimed that a Covid isolation centre had collapsed in a storm.

Okoli’s lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, highlighted that despite amendments to the 2015 Cybercrime Act to prevent misuse, the Nigerian authorities continue to exploit its vague language. These amendments followed a 2022 ECOWAS court ruling, which stated the act violated the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.


Nonetheless, the day after her arrest, Okoli was transported to Abuja for further interrogation. At the police headquarters, Eric Umeofia, CEO of Erisco Food Limited, confronted her, accusing her of trying to destroy his 40-year business and demanded she apologise publicly. Under pressure, and without a lawyer, Okoli copied a pre-written confession statement. The mother was released after three days but not without consequences; Erisco Foods filed a civil lawsuit demanding over $3 million in damages.

Okoli’s arrest led to significant personal and professional upheaval. Okoli fell ill, and her baby suffered due to premature weaning. Moreover, the creator’s business Facebook page was also hacked, affecting her livelihood.

Okoli’s attempts to continue her normal life are shadowed by the trauma of her arrest and the ongoing legal battles. On 9 January, the police attempted to rearrest Okoli, accusing her of jumping bail, but left after she refused to see them without her lawyer.

This case has raised significant concern among Nigerians and rights groups about freedom of speech and the misuse of the Cybercrime Act.


Journalist Daniel Ojukwu’s similar experience further illustrates the misuse of this law to silence dissent. Ojukwu was detained for exposing alleged corruption and held in harsh conditions before being released on bail.

Since the introduction of the Cybercrime Act in 2015, at least 25 journalists have been prosecuted under its provisions, reflecting Nigeria’s low ranking on the World Press Freedom Index.

On 28 May, Okoli was arraigned in court, where her lawyer revealed she had suffered a miscarriage due to the stress of her case. As the 39-year-old awaits her trial on 13 June, facing a possible three-year prison sentence, Okoli remains hopeful for justice, maintaining her innocence.

Keep On Reading

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Influencer Chiara Ferragni issues apology amid €1M fine for misleading charity Christmas cake sale

By Bianca Borissova

Amazon is now hiring influencers but what does it mean to be an ‘Amazon Influencer’?

By Harriet Piercy

Burberry’s approach to virtual influencers: how sustainability backlash drove it to innovation

By Abby Amoakuh

Attention to all performative reading guys: here’s what your book selection says about you

By Charlie Sawyer

Donald Trump warns of chaos and bedlam if his name is kept off the US presidential election ballot

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Who is Bobbi Althoff, the podcaster who’s rumoured to have had an affair with Drake?

By Abby Amoakuh

Ryan Gosling confesses that playing Ken in Barbie was his hardest role ever

By Malavika Pradeep

Understanding the uwu girl persona in internet culture with two Discord kittens

By Charlie Sawyer

Nikki Haley snaps at Fox News reporters who asked her why she hasn’t dropped out of the election

By Abby Amoakuh

Gen Z just played a crucial role in South Korea finally banning the dog meat industry

By Abby Amoakuh

Trump kept a book of Adolf Hitler’s speeches, Ivana Trump reveals

By Abby Amoakuh

Comedian Arj Barker responds after throwing breastfeeding mother and baby out of his show

By Abby Amoakuh

Gen Zers are locked into career echo chambers. Here’s how to get out of them

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Shia LaBeouf ditches acting career to become a Catholic deacon instead

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

From Best Director to Best Picture, here are our top 2024 Oscar predictions

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

UK medics told not to report illegal abortions to police due to women being wrongly prosecuted

By Abby Amoakuh

The internet is obsessing over Bridgerton characters Benedict and Francesca’s sexualities 

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

From one 90s Black girl to another, how on earth did we survive hair relaxers?

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Is Kylie Jenner broke? New conspiracy theory suggests the billionaire might be out of cash

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Report reveals psychiatric hospital allegedly forced patients to reuse menstrual pads for days