…ALGON Chairman says Bill is null and void, threatens arrest
…We have constitutional rights to make laws – AKHA
Local Government Chairmen in Akwa Ibom State have rejected an attempt by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly to pass into law, a Bill seeking to regulate outdoor structure and advertisement in the state, TheMail Newspaper reports.
The Bill which scaled through Second Reading at the state Assembly on March 21, 2022, is aimed at ensuring that no person shall establish or operate any billboard or commercial advertising outfit without being a member of a recognized advertising body or obtaining permission from a government Ministry.
However, speaking on Wednesday during a Public Hearing on the Bill held at the state Assembly Complex, Uyo, the Chairman, Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), Akwa Ibom Chapter, Hon. Iniobong Robson, said the task of regulating outdoor structures and advertisement is constitutionally vested on local government councils.
“We quite agree with the fact that the House of Assembly has powers derived from the Constitution to make laws for local government and the state itself. But of course, we know that whenever such enactment by the House of Assembly goes inconsistent with the Constitution, it becomes an illegality. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Section One, Sub-section three, talks about the supremacy of the Constitution. And if you go to the Fourth Schedule, sub-section 1 (k), it is unambiguously stated that the control and regulation of outdoor advertisement is exclusively the responsibility of the local government council. There is no law that will turn it to something else.”
“I stand here to say that that I’m disappointed that after that discussion with my Commissioner, with the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, that we as a state have gone ahead to attempt to make this law”, he said.
Robson who is also the Chairman of Esit Eket, threatened that anyone who attempts to regulate outdoor advertisement in the state other than the local government councils, will be arrested and prosecuted.
“The Local Government Chairmen will arrest and prosecute anybody, any agent we find on the streets of our local governments trying to regulate outdoor advertisement. Trust me, we will do it. Anybody who does that, we will be very law-abiding, get the person arrested and go to court. I want to appeal that as a government, we are working together to achieve one goal. Let the Ministry of Environment meet with the Council Chairmen, let us discuss and find a way forward. The House of Assembly should not bother itself to consider this Bill because it is null and void ab initio”, he added.
But in a lighthearted response, the Deputy Chairman of the Committee, Rt. Hon. Mark Esset who presided ever the event, said “you (ALGON Chairman) should give us an input on how to go about this, not to come here and use your money to intimidate us. We will oppose it vehemently through our constitutional powers. We will arrest you also and charge you constitutionally. Take note.”
He however assured that various issues and suggestions raised at the Public Hearing by different stakeholders will be taken into consideration at the committee level.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Environment, Mr Charles Udoh had also insisted that the regulation of outdoor structure and advertisement be handled by his Ministry.
Chairman of Nigerian Institute of Public Relation (NIPR), Mr Nsemeke Udoakpan, however advised that the State Assembly, Ministry of Environment, LG Councils and relevant stakeholders should come together to form a unanimous template for the regulation of activities of outdoor advertisement in the state.