• Saturday, April 13, 2024
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ADVAN picks hole in law mandating ARCON to set up tribunal

ADVAN picks hole in law mandating ARCON to set up tribunal

Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) has taken another look at the 2022 Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) law and asserted that the new law has several provisions that are clearly unconstitutional.

For ADVAN, a major item that has stood out is that ARCON, according to the law is allowed to set up a tribunal that would hold ‘trials’ for any persons or organizations that contravened the provisions of the ARCON law.

To ADVAN in a statement, this provision is an extremely concerning development, because “Nigeria as a democratic entity has clear separation of powers between the different arms of government.

“A regulatory body for advertising cannot set up a tribunal with powers to hear, try, deliver judgment and sentence, as such is clearly a violation of the constitution of the nation.

“ARCON cannot constitutionally act as both the prosecutor and the judge in relation to matters which they have by themselves, labelled as advertising offences”, ADVAN said.

It said the tribunal constituted by ARCON is merely an appendage of ARCON and it is propagating the agenda of ARCON.

The body recalled that in January 2024, ARCON issued notices to law abiding organizations in Nigeria on various unclear charges of infractions, with fines up to N1 million per infraction. “ It is critical to note that these organizations include multinationals, Indigenous conglomerates and various levels of businesses, that serve as the back bone of the Nigerian economy. ARCON has now issued notices to the CEOs of these organizations to face the ARCON ‘Tribunal’ on various claims of infractions.

The body said it vehemently opposes the harassment of its members (which are corporate entities that utilize advertising and marketing to promote their goods and services).

It said the harassment and threats of criminal trials to CEOs of both local and multi-nationals is antithetical to the reforms being proposed by the Federal Government through the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council on Ease of Doing Business (PEBEC), and the need to remove all forms of bottlenecks in driving the Nigerian economy.

ARCON has severally insisted that its reforms are targeted at enthroning transparency, equitable practices and growth of the Nigerian advertising industry. For the tribunal, government declares that it is an independent specialized judicial body established to ensure equity and openness in all disputes allegedly committed under the Act.