Erisco chairman under attack, branded ‘arrogant, primitive and local’

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By Ihechi Enyinnaya

Erisco Foods chairman, Dr. Eric Umeifia has been branded ‘arrogant, primitive and local’ by Netizens, after he appeared on Arise TV to defend the arrest of a consumer who said there was much sugar in Erisco Tomato paste.
Daily Review Online monitored his interview and the reactions if Nigerians.
Umeofia claimed Nigerians have continued to “attack him” on the issue the same way they attacked the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Boards (JAMB) in June 2023, when Mmesoma claimed she had scored 362 in the UTME exams.

“This is another Mmesoma and JAMB case,” Umeofia said on Arise News TV.

“People were castigating JAMB, but nobody got the guts to say, “JAMB, sorry for what I said”. People must come back and tell me sorry.”

Umeofia further said he would be suing Egodi Jnr. for N5 billlion if she failed to publish an apology on her social media accounts within seven days.

“If you don’t like it (Nagiko Tomato Mix), buy another one. But because she is determined [sic] people tell her don’t destroy this product… [said] she said it’s a lie… he will abuse you [sic]… people should go and read what she (Egodi Jnr.) posted, to show you that she is determined to kill us. So, why must I leave her?” Umeofia said during the interview.

Nnamdi Abana took to his Facebook page and wrote: Erisco Chairman is on Arise Tv. He is flexing his muscles and justifying the action he took by arresting Chioma and transferring her case to Abuja.

“The local man came in dressed in a green jacket branded Erisco foods with a purple shirt. By his dressing I knew what to expect and he proved me right.

“He lacked communication skills and tact, he is a one man square riot who doesn’t see the need of having a communications professional to do a clean job for his company.

“Interestingly, he couldn’t send his lawyer to speak on behalf of his company.

“The common denominator in all his submissions were “I told the Insoectir General”, “I told the lady”, “Innoson begged me” and many other “Is”.

“You can run a sole proprietorship business based on “me, myself and I” but not a company; more so a company in a crisis situation.

“Banks and other well-established corporate organisations hire reputable PR organisations to do the damage control (crisis management) which includes reputation management to salvage the already bad situation. The crisis managers will stay on it sometimes for several months before the dented perception is erased.

“Unfortunately, Erisco’s outing on Arise was an opportunity to salvage what has been lost in the bad situation but the owner of the company went there to finish the damage he had already started. Sadly, he referrer to the regulatory body (FCCPC) vested with the responsibility of consumer production as liars. So, he escalated the fight by joining a regulatory body in his issue.

“He said the lady had written a letter of apology which he read on air. According to him he said that the lady said, he said that the lady said she didn’t know what came over her before she posted on Facebook. Interestingly, the man kept threatening that should the lady fail to post the letter ofnapolohlgy on Facebook he’ll take legal action against her and press for 5 billion Naira damages. He also claimed that he lost some mega transactions as a result of the negative review by the lady.

“We know that a lot can go on at the police station, which includes compelling victims to tailor their statements oI even an apology letter. Whether the apology is by her volition or compulsion we are yet to know.

“Chioma needs a sound lawyer to grapple with the CEO of Erisco Foods. Saying that the rich shouldn’t be oppressed by the poor is not just subjective but an ineffective way of reasoning.

That said, we are all watching as this issue metamorphoses….”
Steve Uzoechi wrote: “This one is primitive and arrogant! The so-called tomato puree abi potopoto, fell from heaven abi? For which you can manipulate the police to arrest a citizen for voicing her dislike for the product. I blame the Consumer Protection Agency that should have put the amateur company in their place! Erisco my foot! Mtcheew!”
“I am suing her for ₦5b if she doesn’t post her apology on Social Media”

Nma Bekee Fred wrote: “Somebody should tell this man to engage a Crisis Communication Consultant immediately. He has done more damage to his brand by this TV interview.
In the coming months, his KPI will show him that.
“Na his employees I dey pity because they will be the ones to suffer more if sales go down.

“If you are running a business, especially consumer goods, there are things you don’t do, whether you are right or wrong.

“As a business owner, people will always say things about your products (good or bad), but how you handle them will decide what happens to your brand.

“Now that he has said on national TV that he will be suing the woman if she does not post an apology on social media, everyone will know that whatever apology she put out was done under duress.

“What that woman wrote has little or no effect to the brand compared to the actions the company has taken so far.”

Kelechu Deca wrote: “Somebody who is not an entertainer wearing such multicolored jacket should tell you something. That the size of his ego is humongous.

“Does he actually care about brand?”

Unegbu Bishop Amah said: “I don’t think it makes any sense suing that lady for whatever damages because if she engages a sound lawyer that company won’t find it funny because a consumer has the right to complain especially, if he/she has used or consumed the product and discover that what was advertised wasn’t the truth about the product. It’s only here in Nigeria that manufacturers intimidate consumers with court actions because of poverty. I’m not in any way in support of that lady using some of the words she used but most of our manufacturers in Nigeria do tell so many lies and hide many facts about their products in their ads.”

Peter Edeh said: “I wonder whether Erisco Foods does not have a Legal Adviser. Haven’t they considered that a simple defence of “fair comment” is available to the girl? She said that she tasted the tomato and it was very sugary. That’s a very subjective test, the result of which you can hardly argue against successfully. Her taste bud and another person’s own definitely have different thresholds of sensitivity to sugar. If she says that Erisco’s tomato was very sugary to her taste buds, who can argue with her? What is sugary to her might be not-so sugary to someone else, and it is fair for her to describe exactly her own personal assessment of the product. She did not lay any claims to expert laboratory tests. She simply said that she “tasted” the tomato, and not that she “tested” it. I don’t see the company succeeding in litigation, so I agree with those who are of the opinion that Erisco Foods should have handled the issue better.”