Sunday, May 26, 2024

FG can pull down billboards but can’t remove eyes on judiciary: Atiku’s aide

Mr Shaibu wondered how a message like “All Eyes on the Judiciary” would translate to a threat to society.

• August 15, 2023
All eyes on the judiciary billboard [Credit: Twitter]
All eyes on the judiciary billboard [Credit: Twitter]

Phrank Shaibu, an aide to the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, says destroying billboards that read “All Eyes on The Judiciary” was clear evidence of President Bola Tinubu’s authoritarianism and disregard for the freedom of speech.

Mr Shaibu said the entire incident reinforced the argument that election cases in court ought to be completed before beneficiaries of questionable elections are inaugurated.

“Eyes must naturally be on the wheel of justice because when justice is delivered, it must be ‘seen’ to have been just!  In any case, both Tinubu and the APC are before the same court,” Mr Shaibu said. 

He added, “It is curious how they find this particular message upsetting.  Anyway, even if they pull down the billboards, they can never stop all eyes from being on the judiciary at this historic time.”

Mr Shaibu, the special assistant on public communications to Mr Atiku, said this while reacting to the directive by the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) to pull down all billboards carrying the advert across Nigeria.

ARCON also dissolved the advertising standard panel, which is the statutory panel under the council, charged with ensuring that advertisements conform to the prevailing laws of the federation and the code of advertising ethics.

Mr Shaibu wondered how a message like  “All Eyes on the Judiciary” would translate to a threat to society.

Mr Atiku’s aide said, “Tinubu has, once again, put his dictatorial tendency on public display. How has a simple message that says  ‘all eyes are on the judiciary’ suddenly become offensive? This is a clear case of abuse of office reinforces the argument that court cases ought to be concluded before inauguration so that beneficiaries of fraudulent elections would not be able to manipulate the system in their favour.”

He said ARCON had already begun acting like the Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency (LASAA), which had built a reputation of denying Nigerians the right to carry adverts which the Lagos State government deemed “unfavourable”.

“Nigerians can now see what the people of Lagos have been facing all these years where LASAA denies the opposition the use of billboards just to please their master.

“It has become so bad that Tinubu’s son is the one that has exclusive rights to billboards on the Lekki axis. Who can forget that the company where Tinubu’s son enjoys commanding heights admitted to turning off the billboard lights during the #ENDSARS protests? And the only ridiculous explanation for such a dastardly act is that it wasn’t in bad faith,” he said. 

Mr Shaibu said it was ironic that Mr Tinubu claimed to be a democrat and even boasted of funding the June 12 struggle only for him to transform into an intolerant authoritarian after the election.

Mr Atiku’s aide added that it was hypocritical for the same man to be championing democracy in Niger while at the same time denying Nigerians the most basic form of democracy, which includes freedom of speech and expression. 

He added, “While we keep calling on the judiciary to restore the mandate of the people, we cannot but ask the citizens to be vigilant as the corn-man tries to undermine our democracy. Having failed in his last 70 days in office, which has increased Nigeria’s inflation and destroyed the value of the naira, systematically denied Nigerians the right to protest or go on strike.”

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