OUTCOME OF APIP INVESTIGATION A 15-page report deriving from several documentary materials as well as oral video interview of several stakeholders including Guinness Nigeria Plc, Nigeria Breweries Plc, Mr. Ade Akinde, frpa, mni and the ASP members was submitted to the APCON Chairman and reviewed by its Council. The APIP report of the preliminary investigation has not been able to establish any prima facie case or elicit sufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations made against the ASP and Mr. Ade Akinde, frpa, mni its Chairman. Indeed, without prejudice to independent investigation conducted by the APIP viz interview of other relevant, potentially affected parties, the Management of Guinness Nigeria Plc specifically and unequivocally wrote in a letter dated May 27, 2013, addressed to the Chairman, APIP to the effect that it never made any allegations of bias or discriminatory treatment against the ASP and its Chairman, Mr. Ade Akinde, frpa, mni but was merely expressing its perception of the issues and as such viewed the invitation of Guinness Nigeria Plc as “very unfortunate”. In the event, it has become clear to the Council that there was no credible and cogent basis for taking any disciplinary proceedings against any member of the Advertising Standards Panel or its Chairman, and the Council has cleared them of all allegations of wrong doing.As part of the already existing efforts to promote the highest standard of ethics and professionalism in the discharge of APCON’s regulatory functions as well as the practice and profession of advertising, through the reform of existing Advertising Laws and Bye Laws, the Council is working with its consultants on its legislative amendment agenda to pay special attention to complaint procedure and feedback mechanisms, to ensure that perception of bias is eliminated or minimized as reasonably practicable.
It will be recalled that on the 17th of May 2013, the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria through its Registrar/Chief Executive held a press conference to notify members of the general public of steps it was taking to investigate allegations leveled against Mr. Ade Akinde, frpa, mni the Chairman of the Advertising Standards Panel (ASP) to the effect that the said Ade Akinde led ASP was biased in its dealings with players in the alcoholic beverage sector with particular reference to the enforcement of the watershed principle as contained in Article 39 of the Code.The allegations appeared to have erupted after the APCON Council ratified recommendations made by the ASP sanctioning Guinness Nigeria (GN) Plc -by way of revocation and subsequent restoration of approval of advertising certificates awarded to GN Plc- for violations of the watershed principle by GN Plc (exposure of its Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, Guinness VIP and Harp advertising campaign materials, on television before the hour of 10pm).In particular, APCON received a letter dated 7th of May, 2013 from the Managing Director of GN Plc addressed to APCON Council Chairman wherein specific representations were made against the actions of the ASP and the actions and conduct of Mr. Ade Akinde, frpa, mni characterizing same as being unfair and discriminatory and premised on an untoward conduct by Mr. Ade Akinde, frpa, mni including alleged misleading of GN Plc’s management into taking certain steps with an alleged representation from him that no adverse decision would be taken by ASP. In addition, representations were made in the Print Media by the Corporate Affairs Department of GN Plc and by one Consumer Rights Advocacy Network of Nigeria, a Non Governmental Organization, casting aspersions on the dealings of the ASP and its Chairman, Mr. Ade Akinde, frpa, mni.The APCON Council Chairman, through the Registrar/Chief Executive, directed on the 10th May, 2013 that these assertions against Mr. Ade Akinde, frpa, mni and the ASP be investigated by the Advertising Practitioners Investigation Panel (APIP) a statutory body vested with the responsibility for preliminary investigation/fact finding and that a report be made in that respect.