APCON challenges LASAA’s regulatory jurisdiction

There are clear indications that the present management of The Lagos State Advertisement Signage Agency, LASAA, maybe heading for self-destruction as a result of it recent clash with the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), a body set up by the Federal Government to regulate and control advertising practice in the whole country, including Lagos State.

The Lagos State Signage Agency which was established in 2006 to regulate and control outdoor advertising and signage displays in the state has in recent times attempted to usurp, though illegally some of the statutory functions of APCON, in the areas of regulating communication contents in outdoor advertisement structures and signages. APCON has however vowed to resist such illegality.

Indeed, LASAA laws are crystal clear on the issues pertaining to regulation and control of signages and outdoor structures with a view to modernize, standardize and regulate streetscape so as to benefit the state citizens and visitors alike, however, no aspect of the state’s agency laws confers on LASAA the absolute powers to regulate or control communication contents and messages on signages, structures or streetscape. That responsibility strictly falla under the perview of APCON, the regulatory agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

As a matter of fact Decree No. 55 1988 establishing APCON, states clearly that the agency has the powers to regulate and control advertising and advertisement businesses in all aspects and ramifications. Since its creation in 1990, APCON has faithfully, diligently and dutifully kept to its statutory responsibilities and have greatly guaranteed sanity, decency and ethical practices in the industry.

But lately LASAA, a state agency set up through an edict, in a clear demostration of impunity, has risen up to challenge APCON which derives its regulatory powers through the Federal Act of Parliament. This, the agency has done by impeding APCON in regulating clusters, unwholesome communications messages that were unethical and unvetted by small business owners in the metropolis.

Specifically, APCON which has hitherto been hugely bogged down by the challenges posed by advertising agencies, multinational businesses as well as the prolonged absence of an APCON council, has now turned its searchlight on small scale businesses which inscribe deceitful and unwholesome messages on their signages and outdoor structures in Lagos metropolis.

The agency decided to take action on this category of advertisers in a bid to bring sanity to the system and protect members of the public from the consequences of misleading and inaccurate advertising communications.

It is in an attempt to fulfill these obligations that LASAA has suddenly jumped into the fray insisting albeit illegally that the federal regulatory agency has been encroaching on its regulatory territory, even though the law states otherwise.

However, APCON Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, Alhaji Bello Garba Kankarofi said the belligerent and aggressive posturing by the new headship of LASAA, Mr. Mobolaji Sanusi was informed by his poor understanding and knowledge of APCON laws and regulations.

The APCON registrar, a veteran adman lamented the latest outbursts and impunity by LASAA boss whom he said has been holding his present position in deliberate contravention and abeyance of the Nigerian constitution setting up APCON.

Specifically, Kankarofi disclosed that under Part IV privileges of Registered persons and Offences by Unregistered Persons (Advertising Practitioners (Registration etc) Act C Cap 7 LFN 1990 (Act Cap A7 LFN 2004 states that: sub-titled (Appointment not to be held by unregistered person:- “subject to the provisions of this Act, no person, not being registered in accordance with this act, shall be entitled to hold any appointment in the public service of the federation or of a state in any public or private establishment, body or institution, if the holding of such appointment involves the performance by him in Nigeria of any act pertaining to the profession for gain”.

In other words, the managing Director of LASAA, being an unregistered advertising professional as stated by this Act is unqualified to head the agency as he occupies the public office for gain by virtue of being a public servant with salaries and emoluments. And according to the APCON Registrar some other members of Sanusi’s management team equally runs foul of the law because they are not APCON certified.

The Registrar pointed out in Lagos during a media chat with select journalists that previous helmsmen at LASAA had always registered and complied with APCON rules upon assumption of office but wondered why the current chief executive officer of LASAA has remained adamant and recalcitrant in obeying the laws of the land despite claiming to be a lawyer and a journalist. He stated that APCON has written several letters to Sanusi to register with the council as the constitution dictates but that he has ignored this advice.

His words:

“APCON never had issues with past chief executive officers of LASAA. From the inception of the agency by Makanjuola Alabi, to Hon. Tunji Bello and George Noah, the immediate predecessor of the current managing director, they have always complied with APCON laws by being registered upon assumption of office. We have written several letters to Mr. Mobolaji Sanusi to register but he has refused”.

“In the case of Tunji Bello, he was LASAA boss for a brief period, even at that, he co-operated and complied very well with APCON, we have all chief executive officers of outdoor signage agencies across the different states of the Nigerian federation as registered members”. Kankarofi stated that the current myopia by LASAA boss is due to his being a non-registered member of APCON as the regulatory body is in no way encroaching on his boundaries.

He stated that what the council has just initiated in Lagos State has long being in operation in other states of the federation and yet none of the agencies in charge of outdoor advertising businesses in the states have objected nor resisted. He however counseled Mobolaji Sanusi to go and study the APCON laws and desist from his hallucinatory postures.

Besides, he enjoined LASAA boss to heed APCON letters requesting that he perfects his membership registration with APCON before the long arm of the law catches up with him as APCON may be forced to evoke its powers over his position.