The case of Erisco Foods Limited and Chioma Egodi (Okoli) continues to spark interest across the web.

Recall that on 17 September 2023, one Chioma Egodi (Chioma) reportedly made a post on X (formerly Twitter) alleging that she tasted Nagiko Tomato Mix—a product of Erisco Foods Limited (Erisco) and found it sugary. Chioma’s post is reproduced below so you can closely follow the analysis that will follow. According to Chioma’s tweet:

“I went to buy Tin tomatoes yesterday that I will use to make stew, I didn’t see Gino and Sonia. So, I decided to buy this one [Nagiko Tomato Mix]. When I opened it, I decided to taste it. Omo! Sugar is juat (sic) too much. Haa biko, let me know if you hav (sic) used this Tin tomato before because this is an ikegwuru [tiring] situation.”

Reacting to Chioma’s post, Erisco denied the claims. But that wasn’t the interesting part. The interesting part to many, unexpectedly, was Erisco deciding to activate the Nigeria Police against Chioma. In its petition, it sought the urgent intervention of the Police in stopping what it described as “an organised criminal syndicate” that has been faking its products as well as posting false and unsubstantiated information that could be proven against its products both online and offline. Perhaps more interestingly, Erisco claimed that the intention of the alleged offenders was to close down its operations “so as to give advantage to their cohorts, including greedy manufacturers and importers of substandard products into the country.”

Some members of the public were of the view that the above post by Chioma was a review of the product. But whether it was an honest review is a different matter altogether. Reference to other products such as “Gino” and “Sonia” appears problematic too, considering that these are competing brands. More so, other replies from Chioma under the post and subsequent post tend to aggravate the situation in view of the gravity of the claims and other insinuations. 

Chioma never mentioned whether she subjected the Nagiko Tomato paste in question to a scientific test in order to authoritatively confirm her assertion. Chioma is yet to produce any evidence of anyone fatally hurt by any Erisco product as reportedly alleged. 

It takes a lot to build a business 

It takes a lot to build a business and everything of value around that business, including products (services, or solutions), brand, and goodwill. Hurting the reputation of a business can cause severe damage to the business. 

In this era of social media, the possibility of grievously harming the reputation of any business enterprise is even higher considering the lightning speed with which one post can go viral across the Internet.

For these reasons, the law offers protection to business owners against any person—be it individual or corporate entity—who may  intentionally publish any false statement that disparages the quality of the services or products of the business, and is capable of resulting in loss or damage to the business. This conduct, also known as trade libel, is unlawful.


The business owner has basically two options—either to take a legal action against the person attacking the integrity of its business, or to make a business decision by seeing the false publication as an opportunity to promote its brand without necessarily taking any legal action. 

Different factors determine which of the two options above work best. For instance, where a competing firm is responsible for the false publication, the business owner will most likely be moved to take serious legal action (maybe both civil and criminal) claiming huge sums in damages (especially in a civil action). 

Where it is an individual (especially not a high networth or influential individual), the business owner may opt for the second option which is to ignore the individual and waive its rights to instigate any legal process but focus on product protection and brand promotion. 

Generally, smart business initiative calls for the idea of converting every negative product review into an opportunity to positively project the product.

But clearly, Erisco appears to have turned to the Police, not for the promotion of its business, but for enforcement of laws, particularly the Cybercrimes Act (as stated by the Police). It is left for the court to decide. Hopefully, the case won’t be caught by the perennial web of delays that currently defines Nigeria’s judicial system.

Settlement options

Erisco is perfectly within its right to seek legal redress for the perceived wrong allegedly done by Chioma. Sometimes, it may be necessary for a firm to take a firm stand against certain conduct it believes is capable of undermining the integrity of its business and hard-earned reputation. 

But in the instant case, are there settlement options? Yes. Cases such as this can easily be resolved amicably. With a sincere approach and good faith in the mix, negotiated settlement is possible. More so, with the involvement of a seasoned mediator and introduction of lawyers with solid background in mediation advocacy (and not necessarily courtroom advocacy), the matter can be preferably settled out of court if the parties are ready and willing to explore mediation.

The judgment expected to emanate from the criminal court is not one of the reliable ways to grow any business enterprise or consolidate on its achievements. Even if Erisco is successful in court, at best, conviction and court sanctions (in the form of fines or jail term) might be the outcome to serve as a deterrent to others.

But from what I already perceive, the current legal battle has its own wave of (negative) effect across board. The parties need to thoroughly weigh their options. There is ongoing online agitation for the boycott of Erisco products. This is being championed by those garnering public sympathy for Chioma based on the perceived high handedness by Erisco. Meanwhile, a crowdfunding mechanism has been set up to assist Chioma who seems to lack the financial means to deal with the matter. Curiously, I understand Chioma was charged in Abuja notwithstanding that she and Erisco both reside in Lagos.


In this modern era, business owners like Erisco ought to be more interested in business promotion, and approach reviews (both positive and negative) from a more business angle. Since every publicity is good publicity, the public relations team must be ready to take advantage at all times. 

Stephen Azubuike
Author: Stephen Azubuike
Stephen is a lawyer with expertise in Commercial Dispute Resolution and Technology Law practice. He is a Partner at Infusion Lawyers. He has successfully argued cases from the High Courts of various jurisdictions to the Appellate Courts on behalf of financial institutions, other corporate bodies and multinationals. He has advised a number of both established and startup tech companies. He tweets @siazubuike.
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