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Erisco, founder under fire over arrest of customer for product review



Erisco, founder under fire over arrest of customer for product review

Nigerians have taken to social media to criticise Erisco Foods Limited and call for a boycott after reports emerged that the company arrested a customer for reviewing the quality of their product.

The customer, Chioma Egodi had complained of the sugar level in Erisco’s tomato paste product, saying it was too sugary. Her opinion, which she shared on Facebook, wasn’t well received by the company, leading to the use of Police to arrest her.

In a reaction to Egodi’s claim, Erisco said her comment about the firm’s Nagiko Tomato Mix brand on September 17, 2023, was untrue and unfounded.

Erisco also said the review was meant to mislead customers and discredit the company’s brand, as a result, the firm has brought the attention of the authorities to Egodi’s comment.

The company and its founder, Eric Umeofia, have been under fire on social media platform, X, formerly called Twitter.

Following reports of Egodi’s arrest on Monday, lawyer and social commentator, @AbdulMahmud01 on X, on Tuesday, said Chioma was within her right to review the product.

“After all, as an aspect of this social proof, products manufacturers also push products testimonials into the public space. Nobody arrests them in cases where the social proofs are lies,” he wrote on Twitter.

He condemned the police for arresting Egodi, stating that she didn’t commit a crime with her review, “The practice of the police jumping into matters that are chiefly civil and commercial is wrong.

“In this particular matter, the police ought to have referred the complaint to products and consumer regulatory authorities to deal with it.”

While he demanded her release, the lawyer said the police were promoting an anti-social media culture which is dangerous to free speech.

AbdulMahmud said the police immediately consider any post on social media as unhealthy to Nigeria, “A simple complaint that should be dealt with through the civil remedy of defamation is done away with; and the police graft itself as an instrument to protect people of power.

“But, its personnel tell us they have no stake on such matters, when clearly they interview citizens complained against under CAUTION- which technically means that they elicit statements from citizens who are under arrest for civil matters.”

Also commenting on the arrest, Inibehe Effiong, also a lawyer, said Erisco acted viciously and irresponsibly by instigating the police to arrest and detain a customer for her negative review of their product.

Effiong further stated: “A customer expressed her view on your tomatoes product, you decided to deploy the police to arrest her in Lagos and had her transferred to Force Headquarters in Abuja.

“There are certain things that happen in this country that can only be attributed to insanity. If you disagree with her review, a simple public statement would have sufficed. They could have reached out to her to understand her view and explain their position. That would have earned the company and the brand more patronage.

“But no, some people felt that force has to be the answer. What a silly way to resolve a simple matter. Arrogance is the issue here. I hope that they learn a hard lesson from this case.

“The police has refused to reform itself. The way any charlatan in this country can easily weaponize the police is upsetting. They keep criminalizing civil disputes. We cannot continue like this.”

Meanwhile, on Monday, the Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) said it has summoned Erisco officials after confirming Egodi’s arrest.

“@fccpcnigeria operatives have confirmed arrest & transfer of the case to Abuja by the Police Force. She was no longer at the station on arrival.

“Working to determine exact current location & engaging Force HQ in Abuja. Summons being issued to @EriscoFoodsLtd Immediately,” FCCPC head, Babatunde Irukera, wrote on X.

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