The Federal Government has dissolved the Secretariat of the Advertising Standard Panel (ASP) over its approval of billboards which it claimed is blackmailing the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal with the title: ‘All Eyes on The Election Tribunal Judges.’
One the billboards with the hashtag, #AllEyesonTheElectionTribunalJudges, was sponsored by a group, DIASPORA’S FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE.
The ASP is the Statutory Panel under the Council charged with the duty of ensuring that advertisements conform to the prevailing laws of the Federation as well as the Code of advertising ethics of the advertising profession.
A statement by the Director-General of the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo, confirmed the dissolution of the panel.
Fadolapo said the Council has also suspended its Director and Deputy Director in charge of Regulations to allow investigations into the issue.
It said: “The attention of the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria [ARCON) has been drawn to the “All Eyes on the Judiciary” advertisements exposed on some billboards across the country.
“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.”
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 (ASP) Secretariat failing to diligently exercise its function as the gatekeeper of advertising, advertisement, and marketing communications is hereby dissolved,” he said.