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ERISCO: The unseen angle and why Chioma should be the one suing for defamation

By First Baba Isa (FBI)

I have not been able to publicly comment on this case because I have been offline dealing with some personal issues and maybe I wasn’t interested enough to take a long look into the issues.

I have read a plethora of posts and commentaries about this issue and I’m shocked to find out that there is an angle, a very valid legal angle, nearly everyone has missed.

Now, let’s begin from the beginning.

Chioma Egodi Jnr made this post on Facebook:

“I went to but (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, (referring to Erisco Nagiko tomato mix), I decided to taste it omo! Sugar is juat (just) too much! Haaa biko let me know if you have used this Tin tomato before because this is an ike gwuru situation!”

ERISCO: The unseen angle and why Chioma should be the one suing for defamation

This is her initial review of the product and interestingly no one has said there is anything defamatory in this her initial post or product review.

One Blessing Okeke who claims to be the sister of the owner of Erisco Foods made a comment thus: “Stop spoiling my brother’s product, if you don’t like it use another one than bring it on social media or call the customer service of Erisco Foods Ltd.”

ERISCO: The unseen angle and why Chioma should be the one suing for defamation

Then Chioma replied Blessing Okeke thus, “Help me advise your brother to stop ki***ing (some think what she said here is “killing”) people with his product, yesterday was my first time of using and its pure sugar. Tueh!”

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It is this Chioma’s response to Blessing’s comment that Erisco is said to consider defamatory. I repeat no one considers her initial product review defamatory. But, is Chioma’s reply to Blessing’s comment defamatory? Wait, that’s a valid question but you can’t answer it now without answering the first question.

The first question is; is Erisco’s sister’s comment not defamatory of Chioma?

Chioma made a product review that everyone, on both sides (Erisco and Chioma) considers proper, then someone accuses her of SPOILING a business and she reacted in anger to that comment (not the product) and you all are focusing on her reply and not the comment calling her “a spoiler”.

In defamation cases, the court will consider the ordinary meaning of a word, and the court will look at the synonyms and contextual deployment of that word to unearth its defamatory properties. So, in the context of how the word “spoiling” was used and looking at its synonyms (robber, thief, criminal, etc), Chioma’s character was grossly defamed. And for what? Posting a product review properly so called?

This is why I consider it strange that people are looking at the defamatory ingredients of Chioma’s reply to Blessing’s comment without looking at the defamatory content of Blessing’s comment. It would have been slightly different if we could say that Chioma’s initial post was defamatory of Erisco but that’s not the point here, the purported defamatory comment is what Chioma said in reply to a comment clearly defaming her character.

Erisco has not denied that Blessing is his sister and Erisco has gone ahead to publish that comment massively in their pursuit of hanging Chioma with defamation charges. So, Chioma can sue both Blessing and Erisco for defaming her character by calling her a SPOILER just because she posted a product review.

As for Chioma’s comment I trust her lawyers already know what the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court have said about comments and responses made in anger, especially in defence of one’s character. It is common knowledge to lawyers that not every comment made in anger is defamatory.

I’m glad that we have all seen videos where the Erisco man was reviewing the services of commercial banks and bluntly said the banks are k!lling businesses. That’s free speech. If he didn’t do anything wrong then… what did Chioma do when she made that comment in defence of her reputation?

Erisco’s sister called her a SPOILER. Unprovoked. She deserves an apology and compensation.

CAVEAT: F. Baba Isa (FBI) is a legal practitioner and views expressed in this article are his and not in any way related to that of CONVERSEER and/or its staff.

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