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Police rearrest Chioma Okoli over Erisco tomato review

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Erisco: Nigerians blast Police over continuous prosecution of Chioma okoli

Erisco customer Mrs. Chioma Okoli, who gave a review of the tomato paste brand, has been rearrested on the orders of the Inspector General of Police, IGP Kayode Egbetokun, despite court orders.

Okoli was arrested around 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday. She was previously arrested and detained in September 2023 over her review of a tomato product manufactured by Erisco Foods Limited.

A Human Rights Lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, who is also Okoli’s counsel, gave the update in a post on X.

According to him, a contingent of police officers from Abuja, reportedly acting on the instructions of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to re-arrest Chioma Okoli, failed to produce a court order justifying their actions.

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As the initial team struggled to enter her home, where she lives with her infant, and faced demands to present the court order, they called for reinforcements. Officers from the Ajiwe Police Station in Ajah supported this operation.

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The latest arrest of Okoli is linked to the ongoing legal battle between her and the police, instigated by Erisco Foods Limited and its founder, Chief Eric Umeofia.

The police, covertly filing a charge against Chioma at the Federal High Court in Abuja instead of Lagos, where the case originated, has further complicated the matter.

Upon discovering the plot through a tip-off, Chioma’s legal counsel, Effiong, noted that the police counsel informed the court on December 7, 2023, that they were unable to serve Chioma with the charge, a claim contested by Chioma’s legal team.

Subsequently, the police sought an adjournment to file a motion allowing them to serve Chioma through substituted means, with the case scheduled for hearing on January 10, 2024.

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Chioma Okoli, on September 17, 2023, made a post on her Facebook page, highlighting the high sugar content in the tomato mix and inviting her followers who might have used the same product to share their opinions. Her post reads:

“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). When I opened it, Omo! I decided to taste it. Sugar is just too much. Haa biko (please) let me know if you have used this tin tomato before because this is an ike gwuru (tiring) situation.”

Days later, police arrested her following a petition by Eric Umeofia, president and CEO of the company. Both parties have been in court since.

Effiong has now accused the police of acting in bad faith and the IGP of disobeying the court.

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“A team of officers from Abuja—who claim to be acting on the orders of the Inspector General of Police to re-arrest my client—refused to serve us with a court order authorizing them to do so,” Effiong wrote. “The team from Abuja is being supported by officers from the Ajiwe Police Station in Ajah.

“The initial team that arrived at her residence called for reinforcement after we demanded to see the court order authorizing them to rearrest her. They are currently trying to break into her house, where she lives with her baby.”

Effiong added that he spoke with one of the policemen, who confirmed that the IGP sent them to the scene.

“The team leader told me over the phone that he is a DSP and that he had four ASPs with him and other police officers. He also told me that the PSO to the IGP spoke with him directly and that he could not disobey the order of the IGP despite the court order barring the police from re-arresting my client.

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“How can the IGP issue a directive to overrule the subsisting order of a court of competent jurisdiction? Is this how we want to develop our country?”

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