The Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency (LASAA) has said the agency’s operations have no political colouration.
It faulted a report that five of its officials destroyed the campaign billboards of the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State, Mr Jimi Agbaje.
In a statement by its Managing Director, Mobolaji Sanusi, the agency said the officials were on routine cleaning exercise when Agbaje’s supporters attacked them.
Sanusi said: “Our staff were carrying out their lawful statutory duties at the early hours of Sunday, 16th December 2018, by removing illegally deployed A-frames along the third mainland bridge on Sunday but were attacked by thugs who molested and harassed them without proper understanding of their operations. Our staffs were subsequently taken to the Pedro Police Station and were detained without any charge. Upon our arrival at the station to secure their release, our staff were harassed recorded and unlawfully published on social media platforms confusing the members of the public about what transpired for doing their lawful duties.
“We have been inundated with over fifteen petitions from existing owners of advertising infrastructures, especially the streetlamp posts on major highways in the state. As an agency, we owe practitioners the duty of protecting their investment wherever we can. It is unfortunate and shocking that some thugs molested our staff in the course of discharging their lawful duty of removing illegal outdoor materials/structures from the highways consequent upon complaints from registered practitioners who carry out their legitimate businesses along such corridors in the state.
“In recent times, it is evident that the Agency has been battling the menace of environmental blight arising from illegal and indiscriminate political posters, A-Frames and other outdoor advert materials. In compliance with its statutory duty of ridding the state of illegally deployed outdoor materials/structures, the agency has been in the forefront in its advocacy efforts amongst others to ensure safety of lives as well as protecting the investment of all registered practitioners and advertisers operating along these various corridors in the state.”
The statement added: “It will be wrong to read political meaning into the action of our men. Regularly, our men engage in cleaning exercise and no political affiliation is taken into account in doing this. All we are interested in is the cleanliness of our dear state and this action predates this current political era. We clean up whether or not there is election coming or not. It is just that we have to do more when there are polls coming because that is when politicians deface our state. All political parties and their candidates must contact our Agency to clarify where campaign materials can be deployed. We believe election campaign materials should not devalue the huge investments of Advertisers and Outdoor Advertisement Practitioners who already paid their permit fees to LASAA.
“We enjoin political parties and politicians to comply with the extant law in deploying political campaign materials/structures, especially the ones that impinge on public safety and with the potential of undermining/demarketing the investment of registered practitioners in the state. Till date, negligible percentage of these politicians/parties complied and the noticeable infractions occur on major highways across the state. We have a job to do and we’re doing it in tandem with provisions of extant laws. We are shocked that some thugs molested our staff in the course of discharging lawful duty of removing illegal outdoor materials/structures from the highways consequent upon complaints from registered practitioners in the state. They were molested and taken to the Pedro Police Station. Lagos environment and its cleanliness is so important to us and we’ll do everything to sustain this.
“We plead with politicians to respect institutions. We also urge the police to support government agencies to enforce the law. The law is the law and should not be cowed by political affiliations. Anyone seeking office should respect the law and play by the rules so as to develop institutions like LASAA.’
“We also wish to point out that our agency is independent and is not teleguided by any political party. We have one interest and it is to ensure Lagos is not defaced and we will not shy away from this responsibility no matter the blackmail. We clean up at night because of traffic during the day. All candidates of political parties must request and obtain the approval of the agency before deployment of street furnitures for political advertisement.’ That is the position of extant law as at today.