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Erisco Food Limited has been embroiled in a controversy surrounding a Facebook post by a user named Chioma Okoli, 39. On Sept. 17, 2023, Okoli made a Facebook post in which she alleged that she bought a tomato paste produced by Erisco Food Limited and that when she decided to taste the product, it was full of sugar.
According to CNN, what the court of public opinion perceived to be an honest product review by a customer landed Okoli in police custody and left her with a threat of being sued for marketing blackmail, cyberbullying, and defamation.
In response, Okoli filed a fundamental rights enforcement lawsuit against Erisco Food, Chief Eric Umeofi, the CEO of Erisco, and the Inspector General of Police. She also applied to be released on bail, which the court granted.

From the provisions of Part XV of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA) 2018, inference can be drawn that, a consumer has a right to review a product and inform businesses and even appropriate regulatory authorities about his/her dissatisfaction with a product or service, however such review or complain must be fair and honest.

The initial post by Okoli, in which she claimed that the product was full of sugar, qualified as an honest product review. However, her subsequent reply to a comment on the post could be defamatory and detrimental to the goodwill of a thriving business. In her reply to one Blessing Okeke, who asked her to stop spoiling her brother’s business, she suggested that the product was deadly by saying, “Tell your Brother to stop killing people.”

Erisco Food Limited, being a person in law, has the right to sue anyone for an infringement of its rights. Since defamation is both a criminal act and a civil wrong, Erisco also has the right to petition the police to prosecute Okoli for defamation and other offenses under the Cyber Crimes Acts.

The police, in its decision to prosecute the alleged offense, ought to do so within the ambit of the law. The duty of the police is to prosecute and not to persecute.  The action of the Inspector General of the Police, wherein he ordered the re-arrest of Okoli after the court granted her bail, is condemnable. The Nigeria Police Force is a law enforcement agency, and as such, it should obey court orders.  

The continuous harassment and intimidation of Okoli without commencing proper action against her are uncalled for. Chief Eric Umeofi, the Inspector General of the police, and his subordinates should institute proper action and allow the court to adjudicate the matter.

Although consumers have the right to review a product, such a review must be fair and honest. The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission(FCCPC), has made provision for a medium through which a dissatisfied and concerned consumer can complain about a product. A consumer can now file a complaint by simply signing up on their website or downloading the FCCPC App and registering. 



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