As Erisco Foods threatens to sue the tomato mix reviewer, Chioma Okoli for a staggering N5 billion if she refuses to post an apology letter online, the lawyer representing the customer is prepared to counter-sue. This decision stems from claims that the apology letter was signed under duress.
During an interview with Arise TV on Friday, the customer’s lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, stated their intent to file a lawsuit against the food brand for violating fundamental human rights and defaming the customer’s character.
He emphasized that the apology letter had been obtained under coercive circumstances.
- “The purported apology letter was composed under threat and during her detention. She was initially arrested in Lagos, and her statement was taken there.
- According to the law, she should have been released after her initial statement in Lagos. Notably, the police did not obtain any written statement from her in Abuja.
- “The primary reason for relocating my client from Lagos to Abuja was to compel her to meet with the Erisco boss, with the sole purpose of forcing her to sign the apology letter.
- “When you scrutinize the apology letter, it becomes evident that it was not written voluntarily; it was done under duress.
- She was threatened with seven days of confinement if she did not comply and sign the letter.
- “We are initiating two legal cases. One pertains to the severe violation of her human rights, and the other addresses defamation, with damages sought not less than N500 million.”
What Chioma’s husband said
In a related context, the customer’s husband, Chizoba Okoli, explained why they decided to seek legal representation following Chioma Okoli’s three-day arrest and subsequent release.
- “We decided to retain a lawyer after she was arrested in Lagos, during a church service at Saint Andrews Anglican Church. Policemen approached us, claiming that the DPO of the Ogudu Police Station wanted to see her.
- They insisted that we accompany them. I had to call a lawyer, who advised us not to create any commotion and to follow the police. They rode in my car, and she was not physically mistreated.
- “However, she was subjected to mistreatment at the police station. After providing her statement, I expected them to let us go.
- They even seized her phone and examined its contents. They officially detained her and placed her in a cell. She spent a night there before being transferred to Abuja.
- We arrived in Abuja by air at around 4 p.m. We encountered a senior police officer there who levelled accusations against her.
- “Subsequently, we were informed that the IGFP monitoring unit was unavailable and that we should return the next day.
- She was taken to Asokoro, where she remained until Tuesday morning. In total, she spent about three days in police detention.”