It is not out of place to sound another note of warning to public servants generally on the execution of their duties: Many a time some of them go out of their way by resorting to methods that will embarrass the government or their employers in carrying out simple duties. No government anywhere should condone the violation of its own laws. The breach of the law which sometimes leads to payment of damages is a sad reflection on those who are employed and paid to assist in the implementation of the rules and regulations made under the law. Those who think that might be right and that the Government can do no wrong should better have a second thought. We have long passed that stage. Public servants who behave as if they are above the law believing that their actions will be approved by the Government are not better than those who deliberately set out on a collision course with the law … The time has come that a copy of judgment wherein erring officials who set out to serve their personal interests should now be sent to the government so that those who mislead the government should be surcharged for damages incurred by the government as a result of their ill-advised action. Overzealous public servants must be made to pay for their actions. The laws, rules and regulations for public servants are designed to guide them in the discharge of their public duties. No laws place them above the laws of the land.

— Olatawura, JSC. Foreign Finance Corp. v Lagos State Devt. & Pty. Corp. & Ors. (1991) – SC. 9/1988

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‘In order to prove entitlement to prayers being sought by the claimants as per their motion on notice, reliance was heavily placed on the provision of paragraph 2(b) of the 5th Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended), in raising objection to the appearance of Dr. E. O. Olowononi, Esq; as counsel for the defendant in this suit. Paragraph 2(b) of the 5th Schedule to the Constitution, as amended, read:- ‘‘(b) except where he is not employed on full time basis, engage or participate in the management or running of any private business, profession or trade but nothing in this sub-paragraph shall prevent a public officer from engaging in farming’’ … The determination of whether such strictly professional engagement by teachers regarded as “outside work” by British academics can be regarded as business. This can only be dealt with at appropriate fora, and not this Court. This is because the highest court of the land had already taken the position that it is only the Code of Conduct Tribunal that is vested with requisite power to deal with the issue of interpretation of the provisions of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers. See AHMED V AHMED (2013) LPELR-2143(SC). … Paragraph 2b of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers clearly sets to prevent conflict of interest in business transactions where a civil servant is involved, and also clash of time between the time available to his duties and time he allocates to his private business. Whether the law never intended to classify law lecturers as civil servants or persons under salaried employments under the strict restrictions that an interpretation of paragraph 2(b) of Code of Conduct for Public Officers may present is yet to be seen as the said provision is yet to be interpreted by the Code of Conduct Tribunal which the Supreme Court held is the only body that has power to do so. In the case of AHMED V AHMED (supra), the Supreme Court made exhaustive ruling on this, where the court clearly declared while declining the objection to disentitle a law lecturer from appearance as follows; “…I do not see how any ordinary regular courts save the Tribunal established under the code could have assumed the power to interpret and enforce these provisions albeit in furtherance of its (i.e. the regular court) duty to interpret and enforce the provisions of the Constitution in regard to a matter placed before it. I think in this regard that the cross-appellants must have totally misconceived the import and purport of the said provisions of paragraphs 1 and 2 Part 1) of the 5th Schedule (supra) as regards its ouster clause and the forum that has been endowed with the exclusive powers to adjudicate on all matters of violations of its provisions. The judicial powers of the trial court under section 6(6) of the 1999 Constitution does not avail it to do so’’ … It is very clear that in the case of AHMED V AHMED (supra) the Supreme Court affirmed that the paragraph 2(b) of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers as contained in 5th Schedule of the Constitution requires to be interpreted by the Code of Conduct Tribunal. Suffice to state that since there is no such interpretation from the Code of Conduct Tribunal this Court cannot in view of the decision of the Apex Court in the case of AHMED V AHMED (supra), engage in such endeavour to attempt to do that will be in defiance of clear and unambiguous decision of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court being the highest and final court of the land, its decisions are binding on every court, authority or person in Nigeria. By the doctrine of stare decisis this court is duty bound to follow the decisions of the Supreme Court. The doctrine is sine quo non for certainty to the practice and application of law. A refusal, therefore, by a judge of any court to be bound by the decisions of the apex court will amount to gross insubordination. The doctrine of judicial precedent otherwise known as stare decisis is not a stranger to our jurisprudence. It is based on settled principle of judicial policy which must be strictly adhered to by all courts.’

— S. Kado J. Akazor Gladys & Ors. V. Council of legal education (NICN/ABJ/346/2017, 20th day of March 2019)

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The Registered Trustees of the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria v Dr. Jimmy Shogbola (2005) 1 WRN 153 at 171-172:- “The three factors that must co-exist to constitute a public office namely that the office was created by the Constitution, statute or other enabling legislation, secondly that its function, duties and powers are as defined by law and other regulations; and thirdly, that the position must show some permanency.”

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Ikongbe JCA reported in A.G. Rivers State v Ikenta Best (Nig.) Ltd (2005) 2 NWLR (Pt.911) 1 at 25, who in part said: “If the happening of such events brought about by the deliberate and considered decision of that person or his predecessor in office, I do not think he or his successor-in-office should be allowed to use this as excuse for failure to do what enquired of him within time the offending decision by him of his predecessor in office.”

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A public officer is one in the public service of the government of the Federation or State and as defined under the heading Public Service of the Federation’ or of the State as per Section 277 (1), (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), (g) of 1979 Constitution.

— M.U. Peter-Odili, JSC. Kwara Judicial Commission v Tolani (2019) – SC.63/2010

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