‘All Eyes on the Judiciary’ billboards, FG disbands advertising panel

The Federal Government has disbanded the Secretariat of the Advertising Standard Panel due to its endorsement of billboards accused of attempting to manipulate the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal with the slogan: ‘All Eyes on The Judiciary.’

The Director-General of the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria, Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo, conveyed the dissolution of the Panel through a statement issued on Tuesday.

The ASP, a Statutory Panel within the Council, is tasked with ensuring that advertisements adhere to the prevailing laws of the Federation and the Code of Ethics for advertising professionals.

Pointing out the reasons for which the advertisement should not have been approved, the Director-General of ARCON stated in the release:

“The attention of the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria has been drawn to the “All Eyes on the Judiciary” advertisements exposed on some billboards across the country. The concepts exposed were not approved by the Advertising Standərds Panel, hence, the Council has directed that all the materials being exposed be brought down immediately and the violators sanctioned.

“The Advertising Standards Panel of the Council also erred in the approval of one of the concepts as the advertisement failed to vet guidelines on the following grounds:

“The cause forming the central theme of the campaign in the advertisement is a matter pending before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal. Hence, it’s jus pendis.

“A matter being jus pendis and awaiting judicial pronouncement is, by virtue of the Nigerian legal system, precluded from being a subject of public statement, debate, discussion, advertisement, etc.
“The advertisement is controversial and capable of instigating public unrest and breach of public peace.

“The advertisement is considered blackmail against the Nigerian Judiciary, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, and particularly the Honourable Justices of the Tribunal who are expected to discharge their judicial functions without fear or favour over a matter that is currently jus pendis.”

Fadolapo further stated that the Council has temporarily suspended its Director and Deputy Director responsible for Regulations, pending an investigation into the matter.

While acknowledging that some advertisements did not receive ASP’s approval, Fadolapo acknowledged an error in the approval process for one of the concepts. The advertisement failed to meet vetting guidelines.

The ARCON DG said the Council would set up a committee to investigate the circumstances leading to the “erroneous approval” of one of the concepts of the advert and the breach of the vetting guidelines.

“Consequently, the Director and Deputy Director, Regulations have also been suspended. The suspension is to enable an unprejudiced investigation of the issue.

The Advertising Standards Panel Secretariat failing to diligently exercise its function as the gatekeeper of advertising, advertisement, and marketing communications is hereby dissolved,” he said.