Former Vice President and presidential candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2023, Atiku Abubakar, said that the destruction of billboards that said “All Eyes on the Judiciary” was a clear sign of Bola Tinubu’s authoritarianism and attack on free speech.
In response to the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria’s (ARCON) directive to remove all signs bearing the advertisement across Nigeria, Atiku made this statement through Phrank Shaibu, his special assistant on public communications.
ARCON also got rid of the Advertising Standard Panel, which was required by law to make sure that ads on billboards follow the rules of the Federation and the advertising industry’s code of ethics.
Shaibu said that the whole thing proved that election cases in court should be finished before people who won elections that were questioned are given power.
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He also didn’t understand how a sign that said “All Eyes on the Judiciary” on billboards could be a threat to society.
“The most important thing about social fairness is the people. The billboards marketers did nothing out of the ordinary for a civilized place. It was the agents who were trying to get people interested who saw hidden messages in that harmless ad. If not, it is a basic rule that everyone must keep their eyes on the wheel of justice.
Eyes must naturally be on the wheel of justice because when justice is done, it must be seen to have been fair. No matter what, Tinubu and the APC are both in front of the same court. It’s strange that they find this message so upsetting. Even if they take down the signs, everyone will still be looking at the court system at this important time.
He said that ARCON was already acting like the Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency (LASAA), which was known for not letting Nigerians carry ads that the Lagos State government thought were “unfavorable.”
Atiku’s assistant said, “Once again, Tinubu has shown that he likes to be in charge. How did the simple message “All eyes are on the judiciary” become offensive all of a sudden? This is a clear case of someone abusing their power, and it supports the idea that court cases should be over before a new president is sworn in. That way, people who win elections through fraud won’t be able to use the system to their advantage.
“Billboards are used to show statements that teach. Is it wrong to tell Nigerians that they should really be paying attention to the judiciary? In any case, is there any Nigerian who doesn’t know that Tinubu’s fake win is being challenged in court? Even the judges themselves know that everyone is watching them because they have a very important job to do. Why would Tinubu be afraid of such a message if he had nothing to hide?
“Nigerians can now see what the people of Lagos have been going through all these years, where LASAA has been denying the opposition the use of signs just to please their master. Things have gotten so bad that only Tinubu’s son can put up signs on the Lekki axis. Who can forget that Tinubu’s son works for a company that turned off the lights on billboards during the #ENDSARS protests? And the only stupid way to explain such a bad thing is to say it wasn’t done in bad faith.”
Shaibu said it was funny that Tinubu said he was a liberal and even took credit for funding the June 12 protests, but after the election, he turned into an intolerant authoritarian.
Atiku’s aide also said that it was hypocritical for the same man to support democracy in Niger while refusing Nigerians the most basic form of democracy, which includes freedom of speech and expression. He needs to be told that being kind starts at home.
He said that Dele Alake’s comment at the Senate screening that “social media will be regulated soon” was just another sign that Tinubu didn’t care about democratic standards.
Shaibu added, “While we keep asking the courts to restore the people’s will, we can’t help but warn the people that the cornman is trying to destroy our democracy.” Having failed in his last 70 days in office, which has caused Nigeria’s prices to rise and the naira’s value to drop, he made it so Nigerians couldn’t protest or go on strike. Under this government, inflation had reached its highest level in 18 years.”
“He wants to control how social media works so that his mistakes don’t get more attention. Nigerians can’t be beaten and told not to cry. This is not going to happen.”