We are constrained to write this open letter to the esteemed office of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police having regard to the need to keep the good people of Nigeria informed of recent developments in the Outdoor Industry in Lagos State.
You may recall that on January 5, 2015, it was reported in the media that you accused the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency of removing billboards and posters of candidate of various political parties in the state, thereby creating an uneven playing field for candidates.
It was further reported that your office threatened to arrest anybody that attempted to remove billboard or poster of any candidate/political party, even if these were deployed illegally and in contravention of applicable laws and guidelines regulating advertisement in Lagos State. Our initial reaction was to assume that your Office was misquoted or erroneously quoted on the matter.
This is because the Nigerian Police is responsible for enforcing the laws of the country, including LASAA’s enabling laws.
You may further recall that having waited in vain for a rebuttal from your office, we were constrained to address the Nigerian people and to assure all political parties that only illegally deployed election materials would be removed.
We had also expressed our fear that the statement credited to your office might unwittingly encourage flagrant disregard and contravention of environmental guidelines and relevant legislation.
Sir, it appears that events of the past few days have shown that your Office had officially sanctioned violation of relevant constitutional provisions and applicable laws regarding control and regulations of advertisement.
You might have noticed that street lamp poles which have been paid for by advertisers have been taken over illegally by supporters of a particular political party. These supporters have placed parallel campaign materials on these poles without regard to the rights of those who have paid for the advertising spaces.
As you might be aware, the essence of advertisement is maximum publicity and exposure. However by illegally placing their campaign materials to obstruct those lawfully placed, the rights of others are being violated.
Consequently and as a result of this wanton breach of law, two advertisers in the outdoor industry have terminated multi-million naira contracts with outdoor sector agencies registered by LASAA to operate in Lagos State. These contracts were terminated as a result of the parallel and illegal deployment of campaign materials. Sir, the implication of terminating contracts worth N350million goes beyond politics of advertisement. The affected outdoor agencies have lost the goodwill of their clients, the advertisers. The agencies may have to disengage a sizeable number of their employees, who in turn, will add to the increasing number of the unemployed in the labour markets. The materials already procured by the agencies are also going to be wasted.
And, if the foregoing was not enough, the police on Thursday, January 22, 2015 arrested an employee of an outdoor agency in the course of his lawful engagement whilst deploying an advertisement on his company’s site.
Mr. Commissioner Sir, the hallmark of a civilized society is supremacy of law. We consider it imperative to bring it to your attention once again the need for all the stakeholders to work together to ensure that our beloved country is governed in accordance with the rule of law.
LASAA will continue to discharge its statutory duties to regulate and control outdoor in Lagos State without fear or favour. We enjoin the Police High Command to advise advertisers and/or political parties who are aggrieved by the actions of the Agency to seek redress in the court of law.
George K Noah
Lagos State Signage & Advertisement Agency January 22nd, 2015