The Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) says it is a criminal offence to appoint spokespersons without certification in public relations.

The organisation has also threatened to take legal action against public and private organisations that fail to appoint public relations professionals as spokespersons.

A statement by Stanley Ogadigo, NIPR Public Relations Officer, issued on Tuesday in Abuja, noted that there were skills to acquire before a person can function optimally as a spokesperson.

Quoting Muhktar Sirajo, the NIPR President, the statement read: “There are laid down rules about appointing spokespersons; the law establishing NIPR makes it a criminal offence for anybody to practise public relations by whatever name without certification or licensed by NIPR.

“There are set parameters of knowledge you need to acquire before you can practice public relations. The law actually provides for imprisonment, fine, or both.

“Unfortunately, the government too does not come clean in respect of this. Most of the people government appoints to be spokespersons are in violation of this very important creed.

“The government is either unaware of, or has forgotten that there is a law that says you cannot practice Public Relations, PR, without licence from the NIPR. In essence, the government too cannot appoint a spokesperson if that person is not licensed by the NIPR.”

In the statement published by NAN, he also noted that the organisation was doing well in the fight against quackery.

For those who required certification, the NIPR President stated that they can take advantage of a professional training programme to regularise their membership of the body.

“We have sought audience with the Attorney General of the Federation, because part of the provisions of the law is that the Attorney General is supposed to establish a tribunal that is to try and punish people found to be practising PR without licensing from the NIPR.

“The NIPR leadership in its wisdom introduced Master Class programme, a window of opportunity for people who have been practising PR for minimum of five years without licensing as part of measures to ensure that those holding executive and other high-profile positions in both public and private sectors do not end up being embarrassed when the hammer falls.

“We are educating, enlightening and making advocacy visits to let the people, especially those that matter, know that they are further killing the system by compromising professionalism. As long as square pegs are not put in square holes, we will continue to have this and even worse problems.”

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