Barristers & Solicitors
FG vs. Facebook: Court Grants ARCON Leave to Serve Court Notice over N30bn Suit

Six months after the Nigerian government through the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON), approached the Federal High Court sitting in FCT, Abuja and sued Meta and its local agent for N30 billion ($69,461,640.00), the court has granted the regulatory body the leave to serve the writ of summons and all other court processes to Meta at her corporate head office in USA.

The summons will include hearing notices on the social media tech giant Meta platforms, owners of Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp social media apps.  

The nod by the court was given pursuant to an application by ARCON in her N30 billion suit against the internet giant who is the first defendant in the pending suit for the violation of the extant advertising laws of Nigeria. The second defendant is AT3 Resources Limited.

ARCON is seeking, among others, a declaration that the publication and exposure of various advertisements and marketing communications materials targeted at the Nigeria market and in Nigeria through the online/social media platforms of the first defendant, which include Facebook and Instagram by the defendants without the prior vetting and approval by the Advertising Standards Panel (ASP), is illegal, unlawful and a violation of extant advertising laws in Nigeria.

ARCON is also saying that the publication has no regards for the Nigerian culture, constitutional tenets, moral values and religious sensitivity of the Nigerian people.

It also seeks an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their privies, agents, assigns, servants, workers, associates or however constituted or described from publishing or exposing any advertisement and marketing communications material targeted at the Nigeria market and in Nigeria through the online/social media platforms of the first defendant without first submitting the proposed advertisement and marketing communication to the plaintiff for vetting and approval before exposure in line with the Nigerian Advertising Law.

ARCON is therefore seeking the sum of N30 billion in fines and sanctions for the continued violations and infractions of the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria Act No.23 of 2022.

Meanwhile, as part of the new measures to boost the industry’s fortune, the regulatory body had recently said most commercials put out by skit makers, influencers and others are unethical and full of unproven promises. To this end, ARCON advised brand owners, digital agencies, and other stakeholders in the digital marketing/advertising space to obtain pre-exposure approval for all advertisements, advertising, and marketing communication before signing on the influencers.

The regulatory body has also threatened to take all necessary actions, including sanction and prosecution, to ensure that the act’s provisions are followed.