Court Grants Bail to Woman Charged Under Cybercrime Act for Online Review of Tomato Paste

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Ms Chioma Okoli

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja and presided over by Justice Peter Lifu, on May 31, 2024, granted bail to Ms Chioma Okoli following her arraignment on May 28 for alleged cybercrime and defamation against Erisco Foods Limited for her review of Nagiko tomato mix, a brand of tomato paste produced by the company. She spent three days at the Suleja Correctional Centre, near Abuja.

The judge granted her a N5 million bail bond and required two sureties, one of whom must be her spouse or a relative with proven means of livelihood and resident in Abuja, the court’s jurisdiction. The sureties are to deposit their passport photographs with the court. Ms Okoli was also asked to deposit her international passport with the chief registrar of the court.

In September 2023, the police arrested Ms Okoli in Lagos and flew her to Abuja for interrogation following a complaint by Erisco Foods Limited for claiming in a review on her Facebook page on September 17, 2023, that a Nagiko tomato mix she bought in a market tasted sugary. She was released on September 26.

The two-count charge the IGP entered against her, read: “That you Chioma Edoka Okoli also known as Chioma Egodi Jnr, Happiness Obas now at large And Don Kashking now at large ‘m’ on or about sometime in the month of September 2023 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired among yourself and intentionally sent a message by means of computer and social media network such as Facebook, by using your Facebook handle by name Chioma Egodi Jnr, with the intention of instigating people against Erisco Foods Limited, knowing the said information to be false and with intent to cause annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, ill will, or needless anxiety to Erisco Foods Limited, the management, and members of the family, thereby committed an offense contrary and punishable under Section 27 (1) (B) Cyber Crime Prohibition Act.

“That you Chioma Edoka Okoli also known as Chioma Egodi Jnr, Happiness Obas now at large and Don Kashking now at large ‘m’ on or about sometime in the month of September, 2023 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court intentionally send a message by means of computer and social media network such as Facebook, by using your Facebook handle by name Chioma Egodi Jnr, with the intention of instigating Erisco Foods Limited, knowing the said information to be false and with intent to cause annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, ill will or needless anxiety to Erisco Foods Limited, the management, and members of the family, and thereby committed an offense contrary and punishable under Section 24 (1) (B) Cyber Crime Prohibition Act.”

The judge adjourned proceedings until June 13, 2024, for trial.