The Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) has filed a legal case against Meta Platforms Incorporated, which owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, accusing the company of rendering unapproved advert materials in the country, and demanding up to N30 billion as damages.
The case was filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja Judicial Division, a statement by the body as announced to the public.
The Nigerian government agency is seeking a declaration that Meta’s continued publication and exposure of various advertisements targeted at the Nigerian market on Facebook and Instagram without first ensuring that they are vetted and approved is illegal, unlawful, and a violation of the country’s current advertising laws.
The agency argued that Meta’s ongoing broadcast of unscreened advertisements has cost the federal government money.
For the alleged infringement of the advertising regulations and for lost revenue as a result of Meta Incorporated’s continuous exposure of prohibited advertisements on its platforms, ARCON is asking for N30 billion in fines.
“ARCON reiterates that it will not permit unethical and irresponsible advertising in the Nigerian advertising space,” the statement said.
Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
That case is coming more than a year after the Nigerian government placed a ban on Twitter in the country, after the company deleted President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet. it accused the company of allowing contents that threatened Nigeria’s security.
The government lifted the ban in January after ignoring public outcry for months.
The Buhari administration has repeatedly vowed to regulate the social media. In June, it issued what draft regulations it said would guide the operations of foreign social media companies.
Amongst others, the regulation requires the firms to take down contents the government considers as being against national security.