…The controversial advertising campaign receives backlash for its alleged attempt to sway public opinion against the judiciary
The Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria, ARCON, has issued a directive demanding the removal of all billboards associated with the #AllEyesOnTheJudiciary campaign. The ads, which were prominently displayed in various locations across the country, have faced criticism for their alleged attempt to blackmail and compromise the integrity of the Nigerian judiciary.
ARCON, the regulatory authority responsible for monitoring and ensuring ethical standards in advertising, took swift action after receiving complaints from concerned citizens and legal practitioners.
The controversial campaign, sponsored by an unknown organization, featured large billboards displaying the hashtag #AllEyesOnTheJudiciary.
In a statement seen by Freelanews, Director-General of the council, Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo, revealed that the concepts exposed were not approved by the Advertising Standards Panel. While listing reasons the exposures failed vetting, he promised that violators would be penalized and ordered that materials exposed should be brought down with immediate effect.
The statement read in parts:
“The Advertising Standards Panel of the Council also erred in the approval of one of the concepts as the advertisement failed vetting 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 DG also informed the public that the Advertising Standards Panel (ASP) Secretariat has been dissolved for failing to diligently exercise its function as the gatekeeper of advertising, advertisement, and marketing communications.
“The council will set up a committee to investigate the circumstances leading to the erroneous approval of one of the concepts of the inappropriate 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 statement read.
Legal experts have expressed concern that the campaign’s messaging could potentially erode public confidence in the justice system, which might have detrimental consequences for the rule of law in Nigeria. They emphasized the need to separate legitimate criticism from unfounded attacks, stressing that it is crucial to maintain a fair and unbiased judiciary.