The Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria [OAAN] has recorded a major victory over JC Decaux as the Federal High Court in Lagos dismissed with cost, the stay of proceedings plea of the French firm, who has been facing charges of illegal advertising practice in the country.
In a suit filed by its Incorporated Trustees, OAAN had challenged JC Decaux of illegally engaging in outdoor advertising in the country without regard to the laws governing such and was not validly incorporated under the laws of the country.
OAAN, exercising its powers as a sector of the Advertising industry in Nigeria, and one with responsibility for regulating outdoor advertising practice in the country, had in suit No: FHC/L/CS/249/18, prayed the Federal High Court Lagos to declare that JC Decaux Nigeria Outdoor Advertising Limited was not validly incorporated in Nigeria, and so was illegally operating in the country, contrary to the provisions of extant laws of the land, notably Provisions of the Companies & Allied Matter Act. OAAN had further requested the court to declare that JC Decaux cannot practice outdoor advertising in the country.
The primary prayer of OAAN in the suit to the court, which was filed by Mr. Adekunle Tuyo of Bakersfield Associates on behalf of the Association’s Board of Trustees, and which has as co-defendants the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) 1st defendant, and the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), 2nd Defendant, was an order [to the 1st and 2ndDefendants] to set aside the incorporation of the 3rd defendant (JC Decaux Nigeria) as a business entity that could operate in Nigeria.
Other prayers of are that the court should grant an order of perpetual injunction restraining APCON, the 2nd defendant, from issuing a license or other authorization to JC Decaux Nigeria Outdoor Advertising Limited [the 3rd defendant], so as to prevent it from illegally practicing the profession or business of outdoor advertising in Nigeria, on account of its invalid incorporation in the country.
To frustrate the OAAN suit, the 3rd defendant, JC Decaux Nigeria Outdoor Advertising Limited, had through its lawyer, Mr. Babatunde Fagbohunlu, SAN, filed a Motion on Notice, requesting for a stay of proceedings by the Court on the premise that the suit is an abuse of court process. Mr. Fagbohunlu had, in a Motion filed pursuant to Order 56 Rule (1) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009, Sections 9 (2) and 11 of the Federal High Court Act, on behalf of the 3rd defendant prayed the court to stay proceedings in the suit, so as to allow JC Decaux conclude its registration processes with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
The JC Decaux Motion avers further that the OAAN suit was in bad faith, as the Association does not suffer any direct damage by JC Decaux’s practice.
But, the trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba, having carefully and painstakingly considered arguments from the legal teams of both OAAN and JC Decaux Nigeria Outdoor Advertising Limited, dismissed the application by the 3rd defendant[JC Decaux] and awarded costs assessed at N30, 000 against it.
With this development, the stage appears set for OAAN to assert itself in the defence of indigenous practitioners against the illegal incursion into the industry, especially by corporate organisations, both local and foreign, that are currently doing business in the country illegally and with utmost impunity.