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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Women call for boycott of Erisco products as court grants Lagos housewife, detained and brought to Abuja for bail

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Erisco owner, Omeofia; Nagisko tomato paste,; and Mrs. Okoli.

Chioma Okoli, a Lagos housewife, whose comments alleging excessive sweetness of a brand of tomato paste, led to her detention and ongoing trial, has secured a N5 million bail with two sureties of the same amount,.

She was arrested, detained and arraigned by the Inspector-General of Police over allegations related to her online comments about Erisco Foods Limited’s tomato paste product.

Okoli pleaded not guilty to two counts of cybercrime. The police allege that her comments contravened the  cybersecurity Act,.

Meanwhile, a coalition of over 300 women organisations under the aegis of Womanifesto has called on all Nigerian women to promptly boycott all Erisco Foods Limited products.

The CEO of Erisco Foods, Eric Omeofia, had last year alleged that a negative product review by Mrs. Okoli, negatively impacted his business when she claimed that the Nagiko Tomota Mix she bought had too much sugar.

Okoli was arrested by the police last September and her lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, lamented that the fundamental rights of his client was being breached by the police and Omeofia.

She pleaded not guilty but Justice Peter Lifu of a Federal High Court in Abuja remanded her in Suleja Correctional Centre until Friday May 31 2024 for ruling on her bail application.

Her lawyer, Effiong, told the court that his client suffered miscarriage in the course of the case and eventually lost her baby.

Womanifesto in a statement signed by its co-convener and Executive Director of Women Advocates and Research Documentation Centre (WARDC), Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi alongside other signatories on behalf of the over 300 women organizations also called on the government to come to the aid of Chioma as its silence is deafening and “loudly telling us that we the consumers cannot voice our opinions about goods we purchase with our hard earned money.’

Other signatories include Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Women Aid Collective (WACOL), ActionAid Nigeria, Baobab for Women’s Human Rights, Christian Women in Nigerian Politics, Christian Association of Nigeria, Women’s Wing (WOWICAN), 100 Women Lobby Group (100WLG), Federation of Muslim Women Association in Nigeria (FOMWAN), Nigerian Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), National Centre for Women Development (NCWD), National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), Women In Politics Forum (WiPF), Media & Teens Network, Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NTWF) and Nasrul – Lahi-L- Faith Society (NASFAT) and others.

The statement titled, “Womanifesto Demands Release of Chioma Okoli”, reads: “We call on all Nigerian women to join us to #BoycottErisco products with immediate effect, for the following reasons:

“The continued harassment & detention of Chioma Okoli. The insufferable stress and trauma that has been inflicted on Chioma Okoli since September 2023 to date, which has also led to the loss of her pregnancy.

“Loss of earnings and livelihood due to her inability to work and provide for her family as a direct consequence of the ongoing persecution and psychological molestation.

“The apparent risk and threat to her life and flagrant abuse of her human rights.

“For being subjected to constant litigation for exercising her freedom of speech and expression, including freedom to hold opinions, and to receive and impart information without interference as granted to her under section 39 of the 1999 Nigerian constitution.

“We are concerned about her ability to get justice in a country with a reputation for compromised justice.

“We salute Chioma’s continued courage, bravery and tenacity in the face of intimidation and threats. We will continue to support her quest for justice.

“It is worthy to note that in other countries where the health and nutritional well-being of the citizens are paramount, relevant government agencies would be at the forefront of the investigations into all Erisco products and the corresponding labels, instead of leaving this landmark issue in the hands of those who prioritise profit to the lives and general well-being of 200 million Nigerians.

“We call on the government to come to the aid of Chioma as your silence is deafening; loudly telling us that we the consumers cannot voice our opinions about goods we purchase with our hard earned money. Is it silence or suffer? Like it or be locked up? Purchase tomato paste, next stop prison. “

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