May 20, 2024
Action Group on Free Civic Space concerned about dissolution of Advertising Standards Panel
Action Group on Free Civic Space concerned about dissolution of Advertising Standards Panel
– By Alison Godswill

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Action Group on Free Civic Space concerned about dissolution of Advertising Standards Panel

The Action Group on Free Civic Space has expressed concern about the dissolution of the Advertising Standards Panel by the Federal government.

In a statement obtained by The Daily, www.thedaily-ng.com, it stated: “On Tuesday, 15th August 2023, the Federal Government dissolved the Secretariat of the Advertising Standard Panel (ASP) over its approval of billboards which it claimed is blackmailing the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal with the title: ‘All Eyes on The Election Tribunal Judges.’ The dissolution of the ASP by the Federal Government has sparked concerns within the Action Group on Free Civic Space and other stakeholders about the potential ramifications for both the freedom of expression and the independence of the judiciary.”

The group, including the Centre for Community Empowerment in Conflict and Peace Building, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Entrepreneurship Initiative for African Youth (EIFAY Africa), World Impact Development Foundation (WIDEF), Elixir Trust Foundation 6.

Open Society on Justice Reform Project (OSJRP), Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy & Development (FENRADNIGERIA), Divine Era Development and Social Rights Initiative (DEDASRI), Open Arms Initiative for Sustainable Development, Spaces for Change | S4C, Institutional and Sustainable Development Foundation and Virgin Heart Foundation, stated:

“The Federal Government’s decision to dissolve the ASP Secretariat and take measures against the endorsement of these billboards sends a message that has been widely interpreted as an act of intimidation and censorship. It is imperative to emphasize that a robust democracy thrives on the bedrock principle of an independent judiciary. The judiciary plays a pivotal role in upholding the rule of law, ensuring checks and balances, and safeguarding citizens’ rights. Any actions perceived as encroaching upon this independence risk eroding public trust in the judicial system and undermine the foundations of democracy itself.

“Freedom of expression is another cornerstone of a vibrant civic space. Public discourse, whether critical or supportive, contributes to an informed citizenry and fosters healthy debate. It is crucial to recognize that open dialogue and the sharing of diverse perspectives are intrinsic to the advancement of any society. Acts that inhibit such expressions risk diminishing the democratic fabric that binds us together.

“AGFCS calls upon all stakeholders to reflect on the importance of preserving the independence of the judiciary as a bastion of impartiality and upholding the right to freedom of expression. It is through these principles that a society flourishes, thrives, and evolves. Government actions should align with the commitment to fostering an environment where diverse opinions can be heard and where the judiciary can operate free from undue influence and the tenets of democracy are upheld without compromise.”

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