The spokesperson for Erisco Food, makers of Nagiko Tomato Paste, the brand of tomato puree currently causing a stir on social media, has opened up on why a Facebook user, Chioma Egoji, who had published a ‘negative’ review on the paste, was arrested.
Egodi, on September 17, published a product review on her Facebook page, saying,
“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. When I opened it, I decided to taste it. Omo! Sugar was just too much. Ha, biko, let me know if you have used this tin tomato before because this is an Ike gwuru situation.”
The said post has since attracted over 3,900 comments since publication.
However, not long after news of Egodi’s arrest surfaced on social media, netizens took to different social media to knock the management of Erisco Food, urging others to boycott the company.
Addressing social media claims, Erisco Food released a statement, tagging the claims “untrue.”
The statement also claimed that Egodi’s post was “obviously intended to mislead our esteemed customers and discredit the image of Erisco Foods Limited, as previously instigated by some elements and syndicates who are uncomfortable with our increasing market dominance as a leading indigenous manufacturer of tomato pastes.
“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.
“In light of the above, we wish to reiterate that Erisco Foods Limited is solely committed to the production of healthy tomato products, including other products that have the full regulatory stamp and approval of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control and Standard Organisation of Nigeria.
“While we recognise the rights of our consumers to make genuine observations about our products, we want to thank our esteemed customers for their continued patronage of Erisco Foods Limited.
“However, having built our reputation on healthy and quality products which have earned us both local and international awards, including the National Productivity Order of Merit Award, we will take all necessary actions against any malicious attack on our reputation.”
In an exclusive interview with PUNCH Online, the spokesperson for Erisco Food, Nnamdi Nwokolo, confirmed that the company wrote a petition to the police to investigate the claims.
He said, “The allegations were grave, so we petitioned the police to investigate the matter. So if the police find criminal defamation against Chioma Egodi and then arrest her, is it a crime that we sought the law?”
A copy of the petition obtained by our correspondent, dated September 19, 2023, and addressed to the Inspector-General of Police was titled, “Complaint of criminal conspiracy, the marketing and blackmail of killing people with our product against an organised syndicate faking our products after failing to extort money from us and cyberbullying.”
The petition read, “We write to seek your urgent intervention in stopping an organised criminal syndicate that has been faking our products as well as posting false and unsubstantiated information that cannot be proven against our products both online and offline, with a view to close down our operations so as to give advantage to their cohorts, including greedy manufacturers and importers of substandard products into the country.”
On how the issue started, Nwokolo said, “She made a post on social media, a review. Further engagement under that review showed that it wasn’t an honest review. It showed that there was an attempt to bring down the product.
“Someone in her comment section asked her why she did the review, and she responded by saying that person should go talk to her brother (Erisco Food) to stop killing people.
“She made so many allegations, and attempts to get her to share more details about the product failed. So many people in her comment section asked her to share these details: production date, among other details, were requested, but she refused to provide them.”
When asked if the company had contacted Egodi at any point, Nwokolo said, “Personally, no.
“We released a statement and tagged her in it saying these allegations are grave, and we will take further steps to get to the root of things,” Nwokolo said.
Meanwhile, the police spokesperson, Muyiwa Adejobi, while responding to questions about the case on X, formerly Twitter, on Monday, said he was unaware of the case.
“If they claim that police arrest someone, they should be able to identify the state where she was arrested, and if she has been taken to the Force Headquarters, we need to know who acted.
“Now, we don’t know if she was arrested by the police or any other person.”
In another tweet, Adejobi wrote,
“Maybe she was violent or something else happened. We will need to find out. Our CRU and PCB will cross-check. Thanks.”
Egodi’s case has since begun to stir reactions amongst many who have taken to different social media platforms to share their thoughts.
“So, we’re boycotting Erisco Foods Ltd and all their products, right?
“Because I don’t understand how a customer who paid for your product, was dissatisfied with it, and posted a mildly bad review (I’ve seen way worse) gets arrested and transferred to Abuja. For what, precisely?”
“Make dem just go shelf those products cos the bad PR it’s been getting especially now eh!”
biutee_ Nanyang tweeted,
“I was gifted two cartons of this Erisco product some months ago. I gave out much of it and left seven tins in my kitchen. I used it for the 1st time last week, and my stew turned out very sugary. Let them do something about their products and stop arresting customers for their honest reviews.”
maestro also tweeted,
“This is quite sad. One would think that this was an easy-fix case. But then, Chioma, a ‘consumer,’ the same day was moved to Abuja for an honest review of a product. I heard she is a nursing mother.”
While some netizens sympathised with Egodi’s plight, others knocked her.
“This woman must have been hired to bring Erisco’s business down; if not, why didn’t she first channel her complaints to the company? Rather, she brought her unconfirmed personal observations about the product to social media to tarnish Erisco while promoting other brands.”
“Unpopular opinion, but then that lady is supposed to be arrested. Why will you bring another person’s business down? I don’t have a problem with her review, but why would she promote others in the process and bring Erisco down? Let’s be honest with ourselves, beg.”