2023 Elections: ARCON calls for adherence to advertising code

By Oghale Mafuru

As the 2023 general elections gain momentum with increased electioneering activities, the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria, ARCON has urged advertising agencies to adhere to the advertising code of practice in order to maintain peace and decorum in the polity.

Speaking during a forum tagged: “Political Advertising in Nigeria: Regulation, Compliance and Enforcement”, held in Port-Harcourt, Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo, Director General of the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria ARCON, stated that the forum has been organized, as was done in the other geo-political zones of the country, to protecting the political climate from chaos and unrest that could emanate from unethical political advertising.

He said: “Elections are not a do-or-die affair. There are provisions of the law that need to be strictly adhered to. We have the remit of advertising, advertisement, and marketing communications which means that whether you are doing your campaign below the line, between the lines, or above the line, it must comply with the provisions of the advertising code.

According to him, all political communication materials must be vetted and approved by the agency before exposure otherwise legal sanctions will be instituted against defaulters in line with the law.

“We do not practice disparaging advertising, meaning that because you want to sell your candidate, you don’t de-market any other candidate. Political advertising should be issue-based. As a regulatory body saddled with the responsibility of controlling and regulating advertising in all ramifications, we will not fold our hands and allow beneficiaries of political campaigns to take laws into their hands”.

The ARCON who disclosed that the regulatory body is collaborating with other government agencies to enforce the law in accordance with the stipulated guidelines for political advertising urged all stakeholders in the industry to support the efforts being made to ensure that the coming elections are devoid of rancour.

To give a diagnostic interpretation of the advertising code in relation to political campaigns, Barrister Charles Odenigbo analysed the law stating the penalties as stipulated therein.

According to section 34(3), A person, body, corporate, association or organization that exposes any advertisement that contravenes any provision of the Act commits an offense and is liable on conviction in the case of an individual, to a fine of at least N500,000 or imprisonment for a term of one year or both and in the case of an organization or a body corporate, to a fine of at least N1,000,000.

The Advertising Standard Panel is the arm of the agency mandated by law to vet and approve any advertising or marketing communication materials before exposure.


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