Symbol of Justice
By Akinwale Akintunde
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos was Friday told to uphold the competence of the suit instituted by the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria challenging the power of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria to regulate the content of the publications of its members.
While opposing APCON's preliminary objection to the suit, NPAN's counsel, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) urged the presiding judge, Justice Musa Kurya to dismiss the objection.
Oyetibo prayed the judge to assume jurisdiction over the suit by holding that it is competent on the basis that NPAN has "sufficient interest" to institute the suit on behalf of its members.
According to him, NPAN has a singular mandate of protecting the interests of its members, who are owners of media houses whose interests are being "adversely affected by APCON's unconstitutional regulations".
He said contrary to APCON's argument, the suit was not to fight for the employees of media houses being allegedly harassed by APCON and the police, but that it was instituted to challenge the power of APCON to "control newspapers".
"We have sufficient interest in the matter we have brought before your Lordship. This is a case being fought on behalf of its members. Articles 21 and 137 (a) of the Nigerian Code of Advertising Practice and Sales Promotion expressly mentioned media houses and media houses are the targets of the provisions.
"The case of the plaintiff is not the defence of employees that were harassed. The peak and substance of our case is the constitutionality of the two Articles of the Code.
"I urge Your Lordship to hold that the plaintiff has locus standi and dismiss the objection of the first defendant", he said.
In his reply, APCON's counsel, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), prayed the court to grant his application and dismiss the suit on the grounds that NPAN lacks "legal competence" to institute the suit.
Justice Kurya has adjourned the matter till December 13 for ruling.
NPAN had dragged APCON to court over harassment and intimidation of its members and staff and to also challenge some provisions of the Nigerian Code of Advertising Practice and Sales Promotion.
In the suit filed on its behalf by Tayo Oyetibo’s Chambers, the association wants the court to determine whether Articles 21 and 137 of the Nigerian Code of Advertising Practice and Sales Promotion are not beyond APCON to the extent that they affect media houses who do not engage in the practice of advertising.
Joined in the suit as co-defendant is the Inspector General of Police.