Enugu High Court rules against outdoor agencies on signage registration

An Enugu State High Court presided over by Justice K.I. Okpe has ruled that the members of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN) operating in Enugu State, should register all their structures for signage erected anywhere in the state.

Delivering a judgement in a suit filed by OAAN seeking interpretations of certain provisions of the Enugu State Structures for Signage and Advertising Agency Law, Justice Okpe ruled that members of the association who are practitioners of out-of-home advertising in the state should register their practice as well as register all signages and obtain the registration permits and codes for each signage.

OAAN had gone to court seeking the interpretation of some sections of the Law regulating outdoor advertising in the state, asking the court whether those sections meant they were to register each and every signage in the state or whether a single registration covers all signage erected by each practitioner.

But the presiding judge, in the ruling delivered in March 2021, had described as unambiguous, the provisions of the Law regulating the practice of outdoor advertisements in the state, stating that “Section 22 of the (Enugu State Structures for Signage and Advertisement Law) provides that every outdoor structure owned by a corporate entity shall be registered by the owner. What this section commanded to be registered is ‘every outdoor’ structure”

Continuing, Justice Okpe also reminded the OAAN members of two registration requirements in the Law; one for the owner of the signage and the other for the signage itself, adding that corporate owners of signage structures shall, by law, be made to bear the cost of removal.

It will be recalled that the Enugu State Structures for Signage and Advertisement Agency Law came into effect in December 2016, to provide for the regulation of Outdoor Structures for the display of signage, hoarding and advertisement in Enugu State and for connected purposes.

The Law which empowers the agency to; control outdoor structure to the used for signage and advertisement; control the number, size and location of outdoor structures and protect the environment from potential adverse impact from visual blights, among others, has pitted the agency, led by advertising and media veteran, Ike Ezugwu, against practitioners and individuals, especially politicians in the efforts to sanitise the practice in the state.

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