Nigerian Woman Faces Jail for Posting Tomato Puree Review on Facebook

Chioma Okoli, a Nigerian woman, is facing legal consequences after posting a review of Nagiko tomato puree on her Facebook page on September 16, 2023. In her post, she mentioned that the product tasted sweeter than others and asked her followers for their opinions. The post received mixed reactions, with one user accusing her of “spoiling” their brother’s product.

Okoli responded by advising the user to tell their brother to stop “ki**ing people with his product.” Two days later, the post had gained significant attention with over 2,500 comments. On that Sunday, Okoli was approached by three individuals claiming to be police officers as she was leaving church with her husband. She was taken to the police station, where she was presented with a list of charges, including extortion, blackmailing, and running a syndicate.

Okoli’s case is one of many in Nigeria where individuals have been arrested or charged for allegedly violating the country’s cybercrime laws, which are intended to protect critical national information and citizens from cyberstalking. However, rights groups argue that the laws are being misused against journalists, activists, and ordinary citizens exercising their freedom of speech.

Despite recent amendments to the 2015 Cybercrime Act following an ECOWAS court ruling, activist and lawyer Inibehe Effiong, who represents Okoli, states that the Nigerian police have not fully grasped the legal implications of the changes. The amendment clarifies that abusing someone on the internet or journalists carrying out their work should not be criminalized or prosecuted.