The Vice Chairman and CEO of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, Babatunde Irukera, has said following investigations so far, it can be said that Erisco Foods Limited management were ill advised in seeking the arrest of tomato paste reviewer Chioma Egodi as she did nothing to justify being arrested.
Erisco food limited got Egodi arrested by the Police after she posted a review on Facebook about the product that the brand considered misleading and damaging.
The brand has subsequently faced backlash on social media following the arrest.However, the FCCPC waded in and has confirmed Egodi’s release.
Irukera who was on ARISE NEWS on Wednesday, also stated that the brand has been served a summons which was to determine if the post was fair speech and the role of Erisco in the arrest.“What was important in the immediate interim was determining if Ms Egodi should be subjected to any criminal process and with the evidence we have including the testimony from Erisco, it was sufficient for us to follow up the inspector general to see that we have absolutely no reason to believe that she engaged in anything criminal to warrant arrest or criminal investigation.“Certainly, I think Erisco was ill-advised to consider pursuing law enforcement in respect to this.“In this instant, we thought that immediate summons for immediate appearance, bringing documentation was important.”There were two things we needed to determine with the summons; first to determine if the scope and extent of the expression by the author of the post was fair speech and also to determine what role Erisco had in the arrest of the consumer.”Irukera also said that the claim Erisco made in their press release alleging that they have dominated the tomato market has no evidence to back it up.“The investigation is still at its early stage, for instance, the statement alleges anti-competitive conduct.
“Also,they made a statement that someone is concerned about their dominance in the market. “Dominance is a legal conclusion in competition terms and we have no evidence that Erisco is the dominant tomato maker or food business at all from a competition standpoint. So, those are things we would look at.“We would slice the market into different segments and see if they dominate in any area at all.”The FCCPC boss further said investigations to confirm the claim and concerns of a competitor trying to demarket the brand is equally ongoing.
Responding to the issue of sacred cows in the country who flout competition laws, Irukera said there has never been a time he was restricted from making any defaulter pay for offenses.
“In my role in the government, we have confronted the small and we have confronted the big. We have confronted the monopolies and we have confronted the dominant businesses.
Some have paid over a hundred million dollars in penalties to the federal government on account of their anti-competitive or anti-consumer behavior.
“But every step of the way, there has never been any question about what we are doing. We have always been able to present the facts and there has never been a time when we were told to back down and not do our work.