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

The Advertising Standard Panel, a department within the Federal Government, has been dissolved due to its endorsement of billboards that have been accused of attempting to influence 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, announced the dissolution of the Panel through an official statement released on Tuesday.

The Advertising Standard Panel (ASP) was a designated body under the Council, responsible for ensuring that advertisements align with the prevailing laws of the Federation and adhere to the Code of Ethics established for advertising professionals.

Highlighting the reasons for disapproving the endorsed advertisement, the Director-General of ARCON explained in the statement:

“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.”

Speaking further, Fadolapo claimed that the council has temporarily suspended its Director and Deputy Director responsible for regulations, pending a probe into the matter.

Though he acknowledged that some advertisements did not receive ASP’s approval, Fadolapo said there was an error in the approval process for one of the concepts, emphasizing that the advertisement failed to meet vetting guidelines.

According to the ARCON DG, the council is going to set up a committee to probe what led to the “erroneous approval” of one of the concepts of the advert and the breach of the vetting guidelines.

He said, “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.”

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