NIPR Issues Warnings, To Begin Crackdown On Unqualified Practitioners April 1

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The Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) has once again warned against the appointment of unlicensed and unregistered professionals as spokespersons, especially for the country’s security services.

This was contained in a memo dispatched to security chiefs last Friday. The memo which was signed by Dr. Ike Neliaku, President and Chairman of the NIPR Governing Council and Major General Chris Olukolade (rtd), Chairman, NIPR Compliance and Enforcement Committee, was titled, “Caution Against Contravention of the Law on Appointment of Public Relations Practitioners and Allied Positions in Government Establishments”.

NIPR revealed that its recently- inaugurated NIPR Act Enforcement and Compliance Committee will aggressively drive the process of identifying organisations and individuals operating in contravention of the law and ensure they are duly prosecuted.

It was gathered that apart from paramilitary and security services, the memo was also addressed to military General Christopher Musa, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS); Lt-General Taoreed Lagbaja, Chief of Army Staff (COAS); Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS) and Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS).

Part of the memo reads, “In line with our commitment to uphold professionalism and excellence, we offer you our partnership and support towards building and sustaining an enviable reputation and image for you and your organization.

“Accordingly, we strongly encourage you to align your operations with provisions of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) Practitioners Act of 1990 now Cap N114 Laws of the Federation 2004.

“Section 19 (2) of the NIPR Act states that, ‘If…any person who is not a member of the Institute practises or holds himself out to practise as a public relations practitioner for or in expectation of reward, or takes or uses any name, title, addition or description implying that he is in practice as a public relations practitioner, he shall be guilty of an offence ….’

“Section 19 (4) of the Act states further that, ‘A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable to a fine, imprisonment or both,’ while Section 19 (5) states that, ‘Where an offence under this section which has been committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to be attributable to any neglect on the part of any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate or any person purporting to act in any such capacity, he, as well as the body corporate, shall be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be prosecuted and punished accordingly.”

“The provision above criminalises the employment, hiring or assigning of any officer who is not registered with NIPR as Spokesperson, Public Relations, Public Affairs, Corporate Affairs, Community Relations, Communication, Press Relations, Corporate Communication, Protocol or information functionary and allied services by any public or private organisation in Nigeria.

“Should you have any staff currently working in contravention of the NIPR Act, kindly take NOTICE that if by 31st March 2024, such staff does not remedy the deficiency we shall NOT give any further notice before publishing the names of the staff and your organisations for attention of the tribunal.

“Be assured that the NIPR National Secretariat is open to provide any further clarifications, guidance and support that your organisation may require to be fully compliant with the law before 31st March 2024,” it concluded.

Similarly, NIPR is set to commence a crackdown on quacks who have infiltrated the public relations profession on April 1, 2024.

Stanley Ogadigo, the Director of public relations at NIPR, said this in a statement last Friday in Abuja. According to him, the directive was part of the governing council’s decision at its 106th meeting.

He said Jan. 1 to March 31 had been given as a period of grace for public enlightenment and awareness before the full crackdown on April 1.

“We arrived at the new date following interventions from various stakeholders across the country.

“The grace period is for those already appointed as Public Relations Officers (PROs) in various places to see it as an opportunity to conclude their membership with us.

“From April 1, 2024, no organisation, whether government or private, will be allowed to use unqualified persons (non-members of NIPR) as PRO.

“We want to enforce strict compliance of professionalism and excellence in Public Relations practice in Nigeria.

“All concerned are by this communication strongly encouraged to take advantage of this new window to conclude their membership processes to avoid prosecution of individual culprits and their employers, by the provisions of the NIPR Act,” Mr Ogadigo said.

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