Public Services Rules and Code of Conduct for Public Servants










This work discussed the provisions of the Public Service Rules and the Code of Conduct for public office holders in Nigeria. The paper is particularly targeted to a select group – newly employed workers in Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic, Unwana, from 2009 to 2014 – on orientation course. Consequently, the Public Service Rules applicable to public servants in Nigeria, and the Code of Conduct for Public Office Holders in Nigeria enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria form the crux of materials used for the work. It is believed that for any public servant in Nigeria to succeed in his or career, such a servant must abide by the provisions of these instruments and other relevant ones, hence it is concluded and recommended that every public servant should acquire copies of these documents for use.



If there is anything social sciences have bequeathed to humanity, it is the institution of government. Before the emergence of government and governance, social interactions and behavior were not regulated. Man was lawless and naturally barbaric. Everyone did things the way they pleased him or her. In short, humans behaved like animals. Anarchy was the order of the day. It was a state of survival of the fittest and high level degree of oppression. But thank God government emerged to regulate behaviour, human activities and social interactions. Perhaps, this is why some of us in the social sciences believe that our chosen field of study has contributed more than any other field in the world because without an enabling environment propelled by government and governance, there would have been no such great inventions in the fields of engineering, medicine, architecture, etc. In a micro dimension therefore, if there are no regulations, rules and laws generally, the public service in fact would have not been in existence let alone functional. It is in this direction that some scholars see the public service to be synonymous with bureaucracy because bureaucracy itself is characterized by fixed rules, discipline and proper conduct.

For the public service to achieve its aims there is the need for a set of rules and code of conduct to be put in place so that services can be delivered effectively and efficiently. It is in this direction that the government came up with such guidelines as the Public Service Rules, Code of Conduct for public office holders, Code of Ethic in Government business, financial regulations, financial memorandum, etc.

This paper therefore, is concerned with public service rules and code of conduct for public servants of the federation of Nigeria, of which you are an integral part of. The paper did not create additional rules and provisions, but rather highlighted some of the provisions of the  current Public Service Rules published by the Federal Government of Nigeria, and the Code of Conduct for Public Officers enshrined in the Fifth Schedule, Part 1 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).


Public service rules refer to a set of laws guiding the conduct of public servants for the effective and efficient performance of their jobs. Included in the public service rules are conditions of service for public servants (Okonkwo, 2008).  The Public Service Rules in Nigeria have undergone many changes in nomenclature right from the colonial days to the present day. It started as General Orders (G.Os) instituted by the colonial masters. Before independence, the G.Os served as guide for all government employees in Government Departments and Agencies. Immediately after independence, the name changed again to Civil Service Rules, and later to the present title of Public Service Rules (Mustapha, 2008). The present title is adopted to make the rules have general application to all manner of government employees in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). You may wish to know that the public service s generic and broader in nature than civil service which is restricted to personnel of core government ministries only. Thus, all civil servants are public servants but not all public servants are civil servants.

In effect, the public service rules refer to a code of regulations which provide for basic rules, regulations and procedures that are germane for carrying out the business of government geared towards efficient service delivery. Consequently, it is expected that every public servant should strictly comply with the provisions of the Rules.  The overall aim of the public service rules is to ensure good conduct, loyalty, honesty, courtesy, hard work and ethical principles.

Public Service Rules cover a wide range of issues relating to:

1. Appointment and leaving the service – Types of appointment; appointment to senior posts,

Secret society prohibition, etc

2. Rules for appointment on probation: – period of probation (2 years before confirmation)

3. Rules for appointment on contract:- conditions for contract; duration of appointment, etc.

4. Transfer and secondments:  procedures for transfer and secondments

5. Acting Appointment:- only when necessary

6. Leaving the Service:- retirement in public interest, termination during probation, resignation,


7. Allowances: – various types

8. Annual Performance Evaluation Report and Certificates of Service

9. Compensation for injuries:- workmen compensation Act, etc

10. Compensation and Insurance:- loss of property, loss of private property, life assurance, etc

11. Courses of instructions within and outside Nigeria

12. Discipline:- (a) Misconduct (b) Serious misconduct (c) Conduct prejudicial to the security

of the State.

13. Emoluments and Increment:- payment of salaries; increment, etc.

14. Examination in law and official publications: combined confirmation/promotion

examination, compulsory examination for executive officers, etc

15. Inventions and Award Committee: functions, procedure, etc.

16. Leave: types, date, etc.

17. Medical and Dental Procedures: medical treatment, etc.

18. Petitions and Appeals

19. Promotions

20 Reward for outstanding works.

Because these rules are detailed and lengthy, this paper will only highlight briefly the provisions of some of them you are likely to come across with, shortly in your service with the polytechnic. These include rules on:

–          Discipline

–          Leave

–          Petitions and Appeals


Discipline generally refers to good conduct and behaviour. Anything contrary to this becomes indiscipline. Act of indiscipline in the public service has been broadly classified into two – misconduct and serious misconduct. Rule 030301 of the Public Service Rules defines misconduct as an act of wrong doing or an improper behavior which is inimical to the image of the Service and which can be investigated and proved. It can also lead to termination and compulsory retirement. Misconduct includes:

(a)    Scandalous conduct such as:

(i)                 Immoral behavior

(ii)               Unruly behavior

(iii)             Drunkenness

(iv)             Foul language

(v)               Assault

(vi)             Battery

(b)   Refusal to proceed on transfer or to accept posting

(c)    Habitual lateness to work

(d)   Deliberate delay in treating official document

(e)    Failure to keep records

(f)    Unauthorized removal of public records

(g)   Dishonesty

(h)   Negligence

(i)     Membership of cults

(j)     Sleeping on duty

(k)   Improper dressing while on duty

(l)     Hawking merchandise within office premises

(m)  Refusal to take/carry out lawful instructions from superior officers

(n)   Malingering (pretending to be sick, injured or incapacitated)

(o)   Insubordination in order to avoid work

(p)   Discourteous behaviour to the public.

Rule 030302 states that if a senior officer notices any of these misconduct, the officer should issue the staff involved with a query in writing, giving details of unsatisfactory behaviour and request the staff to submit within a specified time such written representation as he/she may wish to make to exculpate himself/herself from disciplinary action.

Serious Misconduct is a specific act of very serious wrongdoing and improper behaviour which is inimical to the image of the Service and which can be investigated and if proved, may lead to dismissal. Serious acts of misconduct include:

(a)    Falsification of records

(b)   Suppression of records

(c)    Withholding of files

(d)   Conviction on  a criminal charge (other than a minor traffic or sanitary offence or the like

(e)    Absence from duty without leave

(f)    False claims against Government officials

(g)   Engaging in partisan political activities

(h)   Bankruptcy/serious financial embarrassment

(i)     Unauthorized disclosure of official information

(j)     Bribery

(k)   Corruption

(l)     Embezzlement

(m)  Misappropriation

(n)   Violation of oath of secrecy

(o)   Action prejudicial to the security of the state

(p)   Advance fee fraud (Criminal code 419)

(q)   Holding more than one full time paid job

(r)     Nepotism or any other form of preferential treatment

(s)    Divided loyalty

(t)     Sabotage

(u)   Willful damage to public property

(v)   Sexual harassment

(w) Any other act unbecoming of a public officer

Rule 030407 states that “the ultimate penalty for serious misconduct is dismissal. An officer who is dismissed forfeits all claims of retiring benefits, leave, or transport grant, etc. subject to the provision of the Pension Act Reform, 2004’.


Rule 100101 defines leave as the authorized absence of an officer from duty for specific period. The Rule identified the following types of leave:

(a)    Annual Leave – absence of an officer from duty for

(i)                 30 days for senior officers

(ii)               21 days for junior officers

(iii)             14 days for officers below grade level 03

(b)   Proportional Leave or Pro-rata Leave: is a vacation granted to a new or retiring officer in proportion to the number of days he/she has put into the service

(c)    Deferred Leave: leave granted in exceptional circumstances to carry forward to the next leave year because of exigency of duty. It could be part of annual leave not fully exhausted.

(d)   Casual Leave: the absence of an officer from duty for a short period not exceeding an aggregate of five working days within a leave year. A maximum of seven days casual leave shall be granted in any leave year

(e)    Sick Leave: the absence of an officer from duty on account of ill health

(f)    Maternity Leave: the authorized absence from duty of a serving female officer on account of pregnancy covering the prenatal and postnatal periods. Rule 100218 states inter alia “a female staff that is pregnant is entitled to 12 weeks maternity leave at a stretch beginning not less than 4 weeks from the expected date of delivery with full pay”. A female officer who is nursing a child shall be granted two hours off duty for 6 months.

(g)   Examination Leave: granted to an officer to take an examination, which is required of his or her to pass by the condition of his or her appointment.

(h)   Sabbatical Leave: absence of an officer on grade level 15 or equivalent and above from duty, for the purpose of research either within or outside Nigeria for a period of 12 months once in 5 years.

(i)     Study Leave: granted to a confirmed officer to undertake an approved course of study within or outside Nigeria. It can be in-service training, with pay or without pay.

(j)     Leave on Compassionate Ground: a special leave granted an officer for a period up to two weeks for burial of spouse/child/parents of spouse.

(k)   Leave of Absence: absence of an officer from duty authorized on grounds of public policy

(l)     Pre-retirement Leave: granted to officers proceeding on retirement for three months to attend retirement workshop (for one month) and to put their records straight so as to facilitate the speedy processing of their retirement benefits (within two months).

(m)  Leave on Permanent invalidation: granted to an officer found medically unfit to continue in service.

Other types of leave include Leave to enable officers partake in trade union activities and the ones granted to participate in sporting activities.

Rule 100240 states that any officer who without an acceptable excuse fails to resume duty on the approved date will be regarded as absent without leave and without pay.


The Public Service Rules define petition as “a formal appeal to ultimate authority, that is, the Head of Government for special consideration of a matter affecting an officer personally”. The Rules advised officers to as much as possible exhaust all possible peaceful avenues provided in the Public Service Rules and Circulars for redress before proceeding to courts of law.

A petition must be submitted through the proper departmental channels, namely the petitioner’s immediate superior officer and the Permanent Secretary/Head of Extra ministerial office, who will forward the petition with his or her comments and recommendations to the Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission and Head of the Civil Service of the Federation. A petition must bear the full name, staff number, signature and address of the petitioner (Rule 090206).

A petition submitted more than 6 months after the decision complained of has been given, will not be entertained, unless such delay is supported by valid reasons.



The overall objective of Code of Conduct is to ensure public accountability by public officials. Generally speaking, Code of Conduct refers to “a comprehensive and systematically arranged collection of laws, regulations and rules of conduct procedure that guide, regulate and direct the behaviour of public officers” (Onyeneho and Okonkwo, 2006). Every public servant and indeed public office holder in Nigeria is expected to abide by the provision of the Code of Conduct for public officers as stipulated in the Fifth Schedule, Part 1 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). For the avoidance of doubt, Part II of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution defines the categories of public officers for which the Code of Conduct is applicable to. These are:

  1. The President of the Federation
  2. The Vice President of the Federation
  3. The President and Deputy President of the Senate, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and Speakers and Deputy Speakers of Houses of Assembly of States, and all members and staff of legislative houses
  4. Governors and Deputy Governors of States
  5. Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justices of the Supreme Court, President and Justices of the Court of Appeal, all other judicial officers and all staff of courts of law
  6. Attorney General of the Federation and Attorney General of each State
  7. Ministers of the Government of the Federation and Commissioners of the Governments of the States
  8. Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff and all members of the armed forces of the Federation.
  9. Inspector – General of Police, Deputy Inspector-General of Police and all members of the Nigeria Police and other government security agencies established by law
  10. Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Head of the Civil Service, Permanent Secretaries, Directors-General and all other persons in the civil service of the Federation or of the State
  11.  Ambassadors, High Commissioners and other officers of Nigerian Missions abroad
  12. Chairman, members and staff of local government councils
  13. Chairman, members of the Boards or other governing bodies and staff of statutory corporations and of companies in which the Federal or State Government has controlling interest
  14. Chairman, members and staff of the Code of Conduct Bureau
  15. All staff of universities, colleges and institutions owned and financed by the Federal or State Government or local government councils
  16. Chairman, members and staff of permanent commissions or councils appointed on full time

Details of the Code of Conduct for public officers in Nigeria –including you and I are as follows:

  1. A public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities
  2. Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing paragraph, a public officer shall not:

(a)    Receive or be paid the emoluments of any public office at the same time as he receives or is paid the emoluments of any other public office; or

(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

  1. The President, Vice-President, Governor, Deputy Governor, Ministers of the Government of the Federation and Commissioners of the Governments of the States, members of National Assembly and of the Houses of Assembly of the States, and such other public officers or persons as the National Assembly may by law prescribe shall not maintain or operate a bank account in any country outside Nigeria
  2. (1) A public officer shall not, after his retirement from public service and while receiving pension from public funds, accept more than one remunerative position as chairman, director or employee of:

(a)    a company owned or controlled by the government; or

(b)   any public authority

(2) A retired public servant shall not receive any other remuneration from public funds in addition to his pension and the emolument of such one remunerative position.

5.    (1) Retired public officers who have held offices to which this paragraph applies are

prohibited from service or employment in foreign companies or foreign enterprises.

(2) This paragraph applies to the offices of President, Vice President, Chief Justice of

of Nigeria , Governor and Deputy Governor of a State.

  1. (1) A public officer shall not ask for or accept property or benefits of any kind for himself
  • or any other person on account of anything done or omitted to be done by him in the

discharge of  his duties.

(2) For the purpose of the sub-paragraph (1) of this paragraph, the receipt by a public officer of any gifts or benefits from commercial firms, business enterprises or persons who have contracts with the government shall be presumed to have been received in contravention of the said sub-paragraph unless the contrary is proved

(3)  A public officer shall only accept personal gifts or benefits from relatives or personal friends to such extent and on such occasions as are recognized by custom:

Provided that any gift or donation to a public officer on any public or ceremonial occasion shall be treated as a gift to the appropriate institution represented by the public officer, and accordingly, the mere acceptance or receipt of any such gift shall not be treated as a contravention of this provision.

  1. The President or Vice President, Governor or Deputy Governor, Minister of the Government of the Federation or Commissioner of the Government of a State, or any other public officer who holds the office of a Permanent Secretary or head of any public corporation, university, or other parastatal organization shall not accept:

(a)    a loan, except from government or its agencies, a bank, building society, mortgage institution or other financial institution recognized by law; and

(b)    any  benefit of whatever nature from any company, contractor, or businessman, or the nominee or agent of such person:

provided that the head of a public corporation or of a university or other parastatal organization may, subject to the rules and regulations of the body, accept a loan from such body.

  1. No person shall offer a public officer any property, gift or benefit of any kind as an inducement or bribe for the granting of any favour or the discharge in his favour of the public officer’s duties
  2. A public officer shall not do or direct to be done, in abuse of his office, any arbitrary act prejudicial to the rights of any other person knowing that such act is unlawful or contrary to any government policy
  3. A public officer shall not be a member of, belong to, or take part in any society the membership of which is incompatible with the functions or dignity of his office
  4. (1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, every public officer shall three months after coming into force of this Code of Conduct or immediately after taking office and thereafter: (a) at the end of every four years, and (b) at the end of his term of office, submit to the Code of Conduct Bureau a written declaration of all his properties, assets and liabilities and those of his unmarried children under the age of eighteen  years

(2) Any statement in such declaration that is found to be false by any authority or person authorized in that behalf to verify it shall be deemed to be a breach of this Code

(3) Any property or assets acquired by a public officer after any declaration required under this Constitution and which is not fairly attributable to income, gift, or loan approved by this Code shall be deemed to have been acquired in breach of this Code unless the contrary is proved.

12.   Any allegation that a public officer has committed a breach of or has not complied with

the provisions of this Code shall be made to the Code of Conduct Bureau

  1. A public officer who does any act prohibited by this Code through a nominee, trustee, or other agent shall be deemed ipso facto to have committed a breach of this Code
  2. In its application to public officers:

(a)    members of legislative houses shall be exempt from the provisions of paragraph 4 of this Code; and

(b)   the National Assembly may by law exempt any cadre of public officers from the provisions of paragraphs 4 and 11 of this Code if it appears to it that their position in the public service is below the rank which it considers appropriate for the application of those provisions.

(Culled from the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (1999, as amended).


One major characteristic of the public service is the stability of tenure of its personnel. It is expected that bearing any form of misconduct, accident, disability or death,  a public servant is expected is to work till he or she attains retirement age. This is diametrically antithetical to what is obtainable in private sector where an employee can be hired today and fired tomorrow even without any misconduct or wrong doing. For us therefore, to enjoy this special public service privilege, it is expected of us to abide by all the provisions of the Public Service Rules, Code of Conduct for public Officers, Circulars, directives, and indeed other regulations.

Now that you have been officially told the dos and don’ts of this place and indeed all other public institutions in Nigeria, the ball now is your court. It is recommended therefore, that each and every one of you should have copies of the latest edition of the Public Service Rules and Code of Conduct for Public Officers or the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. They are Bibles of the public service and should be read, studied and obeyed in the same manner Christians do with the Holy Bible and Moslems with the Holy Koran.

Be a good public servant!

Be a conscientious public servant!

Be an instrument of public service delivery!

Be an exemplary public servant!


Thank you.











Mustapha, I.M (2008). Manual on Public Service Rules, Office Procedures, Office Routine

and Reforms, Oyo: Busco Publishing Academy.


Nigeria, Federal Republic of (1997). Civil Service Handbook, Lagos:  Government Printer


—————————–(1999). The Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, Abuja:

Government Press.


—————————-(2008). Public Service Rules. Abuja: Government Press.


Okoli, F.C. and Abonyi, N. (2005). Code of Conduct for Local Government Officials  in

Nigeria. Journal of Nigeria Government and Politics. Vol.1, No. 1, pp 1 – 10.


Okonkwo, J.K.J (2009). General Public Administration: A Rudimentary and Nigeria

Perspectives. Onitsha: Chambers Books Ltd.


Onyeneho, E.E and Okonkwo, J.K.J (2012). Citizenship Education 2nd ed. Enugu:

John Jacobs Classic Publishers.


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