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Nigeria: Dissolution of Advertising Standards Panel Committee Sparks Regulatory Row

The Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) announced the dissolution of the Advertising Standards Panel (ASP) Secretariat, following a series of controversies surrounding the recent “All Eyes on the Judiciary” advertising campaign.

The council has cited numerous violations and lapses in the approval process, leading to a decision to dismantle the ASP secretariat responsible for overseeing advertisement vetting.

The contentious advertisement campaign, which has been prominently displayed on billboards across the country, caught the council’s attention due to its subject matter involving the ongoing legal proceedings before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.

While the Advertising Standards Panel holds the responsibility of ensuring advertisements adhere to legal guidelines and ethical norms, the campaign’s central theme was found to be pending before the judiciary, falling under the doctrine of “jus pendis” or pending legal proceedings.

The ARCON council has outlined several reasons for the dissolution of the ASP Secretariat. First, the approval of the controversial advertisement that breached vetting guidelines has been deemed an error. The campaign’s potential to stir public unrest and jeopardise public peace has also raised concerns.

Furthermore, the advertisement has been characterised as a form of blackmail against the Nigerian Judiciary, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, and the respected Justices presiding over the matter.

As a result of this decision, the director and deputy director of Regulations of the Advertising Standards Panel Secretariat have been suspended to ensure an impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding the inappropriate approval.

Director-general of ARCON, Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo, stated that, “the dissolution of the ASP Secretariat underscores our commitment to upholding the highest standards in the advertising industry. We recognize the importance of maintaining the integrity of the advertising regulatory process and ensuring that advertisements adhere to legal and ethical boundaries.”

To address the oversight and to understand the circumstances that led to the approval of the contentious advertisement, the council is forming a committee to conduct a thorough investigation. This committee will delve into the breach of vetting guidelines and the erroneous approval of the advertisement. The aim is to prevent such lapses from occurring in the future and to restore public confidence in the advertising regulatory system.

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