Chioma Okoli Granted Bail in High-Profile Erisco Foods Defamation Trial

After spending three nights in prison, Chioma Okoli, a prominent food reviewer, has been granted N5 million bail by the Federal High Court in Abuja. The court’s decision comes in the wake of allegations related to her online comments about Erisco Foods Limited’s tomato paste product.

Chioma Okoli faced prosecution under Nigeria’s Cybercrime Act for her critical review of Erisco’s tomato paste, which she shared on social media. The authorities accused her of defaming the company following a complaint by Erisco. The Cybercrime Act has been controversially used to target voices critical of influential individuals, including journalists.

Aside from the N5 million bail bond, Chioma Okoli must produce two sureties who are either her spouse or a relative. These sureties must have proven means of livelihood and reside in Abuja, within the court’s jurisdiction. Additionally, they are required to deposit their passport photographs with the court. Chioma Okoli herself must deposit her passport with the chief registrar of the court.

The trial is scheduled to begin on June 13, where Chioma Okoli will defend herself against the charges. Her defense lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, commended the judge for granting bail on “very liberal terms” and exercising discretion judiciously.

This high-profile case has drawn attention to the intersection of free speech, online commentary, and legal consequences. As Nigerians closely follow the proceedings, the outcome of Chioma Okoli’s trial could set important precedents for future cases involving defamation and digital communication.

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