ADVAN Draws Battle Line: Issues Notice Of Legal Action Against ARCON, Minister, NIMN, Others
For The Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN), action time is now as the body has given the notice to institute Legal action against the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria ( ARCON) and the following as parties to the suit: the Attorney-General Of The Federation, the Senate, Federal Republic of Nigeria, the House Of Representatives, the Federal Republic Of Nigeria, Minister-Federal Ministry Of Information And Culture, Minister, Federal Ministry Of Industry, Trade And Investment annd National Institute Of Marketing Of Nigeria (NIMN), over some Controversial Advertising Regulations.
Displaying to select journalists the letter the association authorized its attorney to issue to the individuals and institutions involved, ADVAN President, Osamede Uwubanmwen, revealed that the association has already drafted 50 questions challenging the legitimacy of the new advertising law, and would seek the interpretation of the court on most of the controversial provisions of rules set by ARCON, the regulatory body.
Specifically, ADVAN pointed out that the legal action is instituted to tackle the breach of the constitution and legal rights of advertisers and their members by the provisions and operations of the enacted ARCON Act, No. 23 of 2022 published in the Federal Republic of Nigeria Gazette No 120 of 5th July 2022, Vol. 109, Government Notice No. 87 with the commencement date of 27th day of June 2022.
Pointing out some illegalities involved in what it described as “the dictatorial tendencies of the Minister of Information and the DG of ARCON,” the statement said, “As you may be aware, in the last eight years, APCON/ARCON has not had a constituted governing Council. In the absence of a constituted Council, the Hon. Minister of Information and the Director-General of APCON/ARCON have, between them, been running the body, more or less as “sole administrators”.
“It must be said that while the APCON/ARCON Act gives room for the Hon. Minister to give directives to the body in the absence of a constituted Council, it cannot be the intendment of the legislature, in the making of the Acts that APCON/ARCON be perpetually administered without a duly constituted Council.
“The absence of a governing council for APCON and now ARCON makes it all the more compelling for our client (ADVAN) to challenge the draconian provisions of the ARCON Act, which, in the humble view of our client, are not in consonance with laws that should govern a democratic society.”
However, ADAVN said it will be appreciated if ARCON avails itself of legal advice by pushing for a legislative repeal of the offensive provisions, leading to a re-enactment as an executive or administrative remedy, to avert the impending litigation in this matter.
Speaking to the media, ADVAN President, Osamede Uwubanmwen, said legal action had become necessary after all necessary channels aimed at resolving the impasse with the regulatory council failed.
According to him, ADVAN’s contention hinges on the fact that the newly introduced advertising law is in breach of Nigeria’s constitution, and therefore unacceptable to advertisers.
He said, “With the ARCON pronouncement, we are going to court for interpretation. We want to know if they can do this because the Nigerian constitution, we know is telling us so many things. For example, setting up a panel and giving us a retired judge as head, cannot work because the person cannot do pronouncement again.
“The constitution allows me to do legal contract. For ARCON to say it wants to be involved and do my contract for me doesn’t make sense.”
Asked if ADVAN has explored all peaceful means to settle this, Uwubanmwen said, “We have reached out, we sent letters to the HASG. We don’t do anything without sending it to them. They are the head of our sectoral bodies. As I speak now, there has been no conversation on the issue. Before now, we have reached out to everybody. The first thing we did as an exco is that we went and met every exco of every single body even the DG.
“We came in at the time that AYSOP was launched. The onus was on us to say guys we need to meet. Every time we meet, we explain our side of the story to them, why there cannot be one uniform payment term. We all get our money on different days of the cycle. For some people like in the pharmaceutical, it is 60 days they give to the hospital before they start paying. So, can I pay somebody when I have not collected my money? We explained everything to them. We then went to the DG and we said we would love to come back as a body to settle the conversation. Nothing happened.”
In response to the issue, a legal practitioner who spoke to Brand Communicator on the condition of anonymity said that section 36, subsection 2 of the constitution is the answer to ADVAN’s agitation over the ARCON Act. In his words, “It is the constitutional right of NASS to make law. For the National as long as the law does not offend any provision of the Constitution and followed due procedure of enactment it is good law.
“NASS has the powers to make law on any matter both on the exclusive and concurrent legislative list. That your business is affected as a person does not make the law a bad law. The court can only declare a law unconstitutional only where it tries to take away the constitutional jurisdiction of the court”.