Woman Faces Up To Seven Years in Prison for Negative Online Review

A Nigerian woman is facing up to seven years in prison for allegedly breaking her country’s cyber crime laws by posting a negative online review for a can of tomato puree.

In September of last year, 39-year-old Chioma Okoli took to Facebook to voice her opinion about a can of tomato puree she had recently bought, claiming that it contained too much sugar and asking her friends and followers to express their opinions as well. Somehow, Okoli’s post went viral on Meta’s social network, generating over 3,000 comments, including one from a person claiming to be the sister of the founder of Erisco Foods Limited, the company that made the canned tomato puree. They asked Okoli to stop bashing the product and just try something else, but the woman doubled down on her claims, asking the person to ask their brother to”stop ki***ing people with his product”. That ended up costing her, as she was arrested just days later and she is now facing up to seven years in prison.

Photo: Christin Hume/Unsplash

“I went to but Tin tomatoes yesterday that I will use to make stew, but didn’t see my favourites, so I decided to buy this one,” Chioma Okoli wrote in her original Facebook post. “When I opened it, I decided to taste it omo! Sugar is juat too much! Haa biko let me know if you hav used this tin tomato before because this is an ikegwuru situation! [sic]”.

On September 24, while she was at church in Lagos, Okoli was approached by policemen in plain clothes and taken into custody for allegedly “instigating Erisco Foods Limited, knowing the said information to be false under Section 24 (1) (B) of Nigeria’s Cyber Crime Prohibition Act.” She was kept in a leaky cell for a day before being flown to Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, where she was released on administrative bail.

“There were no seats, so I stood all through till the next day. My legs were inside the water (that came in from the leaking roof). Sometimes, I squatted to reduce the pressure on my legs,” Chioma Okoli told CNN Africa. “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.”


On October 5, 2023, the police filed their case against the woman, and the first court hearing took place two months later. A judge issued a restraining order that Okoli couldn’t be arrested without a court order, but the pregnant mother claims that police still found ways of harassing her, like when they entered her home in January and spent an entire day there.

“They stayed in my building from 6:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. My children couldn’t go to school that day, and we couldn’t go out to get food because the cooking gas was finished,” Okoli said.

Erisco Foods Limited, the company that makes the tomato puree Chioma Okoli referenced in her Facebook post, is also going after the Nigerian woman. It filed a N5 Billion ($3 million) lawsuit against her, claiming that the bad publicity caused it serious problems like the loss of several suppliers and multiple credit lines. And, despite pressure from the general public, the founder of Erisco, Eric Umeofia, said he would rather die than allow anyone to tarnish the reputation he spent 40 years building.


Chioma Okoli has filed her own lawsuits against both Nigerian police and Erisco Foods Limited, asking for 500 million naira ($361,171) in damages. Her lawyer described her struggle as a David vs. Goliath battle.

For voicing her opinion on social media, Chioma now faces up to seven years in prison, a fine of 7 million naira ($5,000), or both. She is due in court on April 18 for her arraignment.