Former Vice President and the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the recently-concluded 2023 elections, Atiku Abubakar, has knocked President Bola Tinubu over the destruction of billboards in strategic locations in the Federal Capital Territory for drawing public attention to the judiciary as Nigerians await the verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Court.
The Federal Government had disbanded the Secretariat of the Advertising Standard Panel due to its endorsement of billboards accused of attempting to manipulate the verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal with the slogan, ‘All Eyes on the Judiciary.’
A statement by the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria had earlier conveyed the dissolution of the panel on Tuesday.
The statement read, “The Advertising Standards Panel of the Council also erred in the approval of one of the concepts, as the advertisement failed to vet guidelines on the following grounds:
“The cause forming the central theme of the campaign in the advertisement is a matter pending before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal. Hence, it’s jus pendis.
“A matter being jus pendis and awaiting judicial pronouncement is, by virtue of the Nigerian legal system, precluded from being a subject of public statement, debate, discussion, advertisement. The advertisement is controversial and capable of instigating public unrest and breach of public peace.
“The advertisement is considered blackmail against the Nigerian judiciary, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, and particularly the honourable Justices of the tribunal who are expected to discharge their judicial functions without fear or favour over a matter that
In reaction to the news , Atiku’s Special Assistant on Public Communications, Mr Phrank Shaibu, described the destruction of the billboards with the slogan ‘All eyes on the judiciary,’ as a clear evidence of “President Bola Tinubu’s authoritarianism and assault on the freedom of speech.”
Shaibu, in a statement, said, “The basic principle of social justice is about the people. The advertisers of the billboards only did what the norm is in civilised climes. It was the agents working to impress an interest that read meanings to that innocuous advert.
Atiku said by that act, “Tinubu has, once again, put his dictatorial tendency on public display.” He considered the action as a “clear case of abuse of office”.