Code Conduct Tribunal alone can determine whether a Public Officer can engage in Private Practice– Court of Appeal

It is settled position of the law, that whether a law lecturer participates in private practice or not, it is not in the powers of the Court to enforce it but the duty of the Code of Conduct Bureau.

You may have taken cognizance of the High Court judgement on propriety of a law lecturer in public service engaging in private practice.

In the Lawrence Ogeiva & 6 Ors V. Comrade Adams Aliu Oshiomole Executive Governor Of Edo State & 6 Ors —the court concluded that:

  “It will be a breach of this oath for a judicial officer to allow a public officer in breach of the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to engage in private practice by granting him a right of audience.”

Now, in Ebere & Ors V. Imsu & Ors Citation: [2016] LPELR-40619 [CA], in response to the issue: Whether it is the regular court that has the function of hearing an objection to the appearance of a university lecturer as counsel in a proceeding, the court ruled this:

“The controversy which dogged the proceedings at the Lower Court was triggered off by the objection raised by learned appellants’ counsel to the appearance of Prof. O. E. Nwaebo and Dr. U. U. Chukwumaeze [now Prof. U. U. Chukwumaeze]》as Counsel for the 1st and 2nd Respondents by virtue of being full time law Lecturers in the Imo State University Faculty of Law.

Without further ado, it will be necessary to point out the settled position of the law for a very long time is that whether a law lecturer participates in private practice or not, it is not in the powers of the Court to enforce it but the duty of the Code of Conduct Bureau.

This was the opinion of the Court in OGBUAGU vs. OGBUAGU [1981] N.C.L.R 690. In this case Mr. Okey Achike a legal practitioner and a staff of University of Nigeria appeared for one of the parties in a
divorce proceeding. His right of appearance was challenged by the virtue of Section 15 of the 5th schedule to the 1979 Constitution.

The Court held that it is not the function of the Court but that of the Code of Conduct.

The same scenario also played out recently in the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Ahmed vs. Ahmed [2013] LPELR- 21143 SC— where an application was made to strike out a notice of appeal filed by a Law Lecturer with the Nigerian Law School, one Mr. Debo.

Declining to strike out the appeal, the Supreme Court was of the view that the question as to whether a public servant [law lecturer in a Public University] has breached the provisions of the Code of Conduct only makes it an issue for the Code Conduct Tribunal and not the regular Court of law. …”Per Oho, J5D–

Share:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *