Why a Nigerian Woman, Chioma Okoli Faces Jail Time for Reviewing Tomato Puree

A Nigerian woman, Chioma Okoli, shared a review of Nagiko tomato puree she purchased at a street market in Sangotedo, Lagos, via her Facebook page on September 16, 2023.

She mentioned that it had a sweeter taste compared to other brands and asked her followers for their thoughts.

The post sparked various opinions, leading to a heated discussion among users.

“Stop spoiling my brother’s product, if [you] don’t like it, use another one than bring it to social media”, a user wrote.

She replied, “Help me advise your brother to stop ki**ing people with his product…”

Shortly after she was arrested by two men and a woman in plain clothes who claimed to be police officers, she recounted.

They took her to the Ogudu police station. The 39-year-old, who is pregnant with her fourth child, has been trapped in a legal battle ever since, accused of a cybercrime punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of seven million Nigerian naira.

Can product reviews be a cybercrime?

Nigeria’s Cybercrime Act was fast-tracked through Parliament in May 2015 and became the country’s first legislation to specifically deal with cybercrime-related offences, such as cyberbullying, online fraud, and unlawful activities carried out on social media by an individual or groups with malicious intent.

Whether or not Okoli has committed such a crime has divided public opinion.

Okoli has received support from many people who consider Erisco to be a ‘corporate bully’ and suggest boycotting it.

Yet there is no consensus on the difference between a product review and a cybercrime, or what might be considered an excessive abuse of power by a company or the police.

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