The Federal Government has disbanded the Secretariat of the Advertising Standard Panel (ASP) for its approval of billboards deemed to be blackmailing the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal under the heading ‘All Eyes on the Judiciary.’
The ASP is the Council’s Statutory Panel responsible for ensuring that advertisements comply with Federation rules as well as the Code of Advertising Ethics of the advertising profession.
Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo, Director-General of the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON), announced the panel’s dissolution in a statement.
According to Fadolapo, the Council has also suspended its Director and Deputy Director in charge of Regulations in order to conduct an investigation into the matter.
It said: “The attention of the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeriə [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 favor over a matter that is currently jus pendis.”
The ARCON DG stated that the Council will form a committee to investigate the events that led to the “erroneous approval” of one of the ad concepts and the violation of the vetting rules.
“As a result, the Director and Deputy Director, Regulations have been suspended as well. The suspension is intended to allow for an objective investigation of the problem. The Advertising Standards Panel (ASP) Secretariat is hereby dissolved for failing to diligently exercise its function as the gatekeeper of advertising, advertisement, and marketing communications,” he stated.