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Erisco vs Customer: Police Charge Chioma with cybercrime as Her Lawyer seeks Transfer of the case to Lagos

Erisco vs Customer: Police Charge Chioma with cybercrime as Her Lawyer seeks Transfer of the case to Lagos
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Human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, has sought the permission of the court to move a lawsuit filed by Erisco Foods Limited against Mrs Chioma Edoka Okoli, a female customer who was previously arrested for reviewing the tomato product of the company.

Inibehe Effiong, who is the female customer’s counsel, made this known on Friday via his verified X handle, said the step was to save on the costs of travelling and accommodation.

He said, “We were at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday, 29th February 2024 for the “cybercrime” charge filed by the Inspector General of Police against Chioma.

“Without going into too much detail, we have filed an application seeking the transfer of the case from Abuja to Lagos where the events leading to the charge took place and where the two parties are based.

“The police as of yesterday were yet to serve Chioma with the charge sheet.

“The police claimed they could not serve her despite that no attempt was made to serve her. They filed a motion for leave (permission) to serve her through her counsel (us). Since they couldn’t provide evidence of effort made to serve her personally, they had to withdraw their motion.

“However, we informed the court that we did not want the court’s time to be wasted further because of the failure of the police to serve her with the charge sheet and that it was in furtherance of this decision that we had applied for and obtained the charge on our own.

“We also informed the court about our pending Notice of Preliminary Objection challenging the territorial jurisdiction of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court to hear the case and praying that the charge should either be dismissed or be transferred to the Lagos Division.

“His Lordship therefore adjourned the case to the 18th day of April 2024 for possible arraignment or hearing of the pending application(s)/objection.

“Chioma was not in court on Thursday because the police did not serve her with the charge. I however led her defence team and represented her in the proceedings.

“She will be present in court on April 18 being the next adjourned date.

“I spent about N400,000 for my trip to Abuja for yesterday’s proceedings (flight tickets and hotel accommodation). You can imagine what the cost implication will be when Chioma joins me in the court on April 18.

“You can also imagine what it’ll cost if we have to be travelling to Abuja every time the matter comes up for hearing.

“It is important to mention the financial implication because we are mindful of the willingness of some spirited Nigerians to help and support her cause.

“This is exactly why the IGP decided to file the case in Abuja. We will allow the Honourable Court to determine whether Abuja is the appropriate forum to try the case or whether it should be tried in Lagos.

“For emphasis, our determination to seek justice is unshakable. No degree of boasting, arrogance or intimidation will make us to give up. We are not going to yield to threats. Those advising us to beg should keep stop wasting their energy.

“We are more than ready to confront and face Erisco and Chief Eric Umeofia in the court.

“For those who may want to know, we’re doing this on a pro bono basis. We have not charged Chioma professional fees for any of the cases in court. Whatever support she gets goes to support the cost of logistics. The support given to her isn’t even close to what’s required for travels alone.”

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