A Nigerian woman has been arrested for claiming that a tomato paste she bought in a market tasted sugary.
The paste, Nagiko tomato mix, is manufactured by Erisco Foods Limited, Lagos.
The woman, Chioma Okoli, made the comment in a post on her Facebook page on 17 September.
She goes by the name, Chioma Egodi Jnr, on Facebook.
In the post seen by PREMIUM TIMES, Ms Okoli said she had gone to the market on 16 September with the intention of buying Gino or Sonia brand of tomato paste but could not find them.
She said she later bought the Nagiko tomato mix which she had planned to use in making stew.
“When I opened it, I decided to taste it, Omo! Sugar is just too much!” she wrote.
In the post, she urged other Facebook users to confirm if they had used the product before, apparently to ascertain if they had similar experiences.
Her Facebook profile suggests she hails from Nnewi in Anambra State but resides in Lagos State, South-west Nigeria.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that she was arrested on Sunday by the police.
Erisco Foods Limited described as “untrue and unfounded”, that its paste tastes sugary.
In a statement issued by its management, the company said it was built on the vision and mission to manufacture and promote healthy and wholly made-in-Nigeria tomato products with a commitment to feed Africa, including Nigeria.
“Our initial reaction was to ignore and disregard the post which was obviously intended to mislead our esteemed customers and discredit the image of Erisco Foods Limited,” the company said in a statement.
It claimed that similar posts were previously instigated by “some elements and syndicates” uncomfortable with the company’s “market dominance”.
“Considering, however, that Erisco Foods Limited has built a reputation as a credible organisation committed to due process and the good of humanity, we have decided to bring the said publication to the attention of relevant authorities,” the statement added.
The company vowed that it would take “all necessary actions against any malicious attack” on its reputation.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), Babatunde Irukera, announced the arrest of Ms Okoli, over her post.
Mr Mr Irukera, a lawyer, in a post via his X handle (formerly Twitter) on Monday, said FCCPC operatives confirmed to him that the suspect had been transferred to Force Headquarters in Abuja.
“She was no longer at the station on arrival. (I am) working to determine the exact current location and engaging Force Headquarters in Abuja,” he wrote on the microblogging site.
“Summons being issued to Erisco Foods Limited immediately.”
‘You acted viciously and irresponsibly’
Reacting, a human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, criticised Erisco Foods Limited for allegedly “instigating” the police to arrest and detain the customer for her negative review of their product.
Mr Effiong, in a post via his X handle on Monday, said the company’s management “acted viciously and irresponsibly”.
The lawyer stressed that the company ought to have issued a public statement or even reached out to the woman to understand her view and explain their position if they disagreed with her review.
“That would have earned the company and the brand more patronage,” he said.
Mr Effiong criticised the police over the arrest, and said it was unfortunate that the police had “refused to reform itself”.
The lawyer said it is upsetting that “any charlatan” in the country can easily weaponise the police, whom he said have continued to criminalise civil disputes in the country.
“We cannot continue like this,” he said.
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