Vanguard (Lagos)

19 November 2012

Nigeria: Kayode Eso, the Mystery Judge - Soyinka

Lagos — Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has described the late Supreme Court Justice Kayode Eso who died last Friday in a London hospital as a mystery judge even as the family of the deceased will meet in the next two or three days with a view to releasing the burial programmes.

The Nobel laureate in his tribute said though the late jurist titled the narrative of his life on the bench: The Mystery Gunman, but for him, late Eso had remained the mystery judge.

According to Soyinka, "it is endlessly fascinating to consider that he may have changed the probable course of my existence, but this is not why I mourn him, or pay him tribute. We bonded.

"That bond began without his knowledge, months before I actually stood trial in his court. It began as we monitored his phone calls, among others, during the Western Region crisis, and heard him resist pressure from the apex of power urging him to dent the shield of justice. He resisted with grace, with a disarming sense of humour. Who was this judge? I wondered.

"At the feast of after-life, or wherever a table is set aside for judges of stellar integrity, there will Kayode Eso be seated, in a high place of honour."

Meanwhile, the late Justice Eso's younger brother, Venerable Ladipo Eso, said yesterday that the larger family "will meet in the next two or three days to decide the next line of action."

According to him, the family must consider the personality of the late retired Justice of the Supreme Court and his standing in the society, before coming out with his burial programmes.

Meanwhile, friends and sympathizers have continued to throng the Ikeja G.R.A. residence of Ven. Eso to commiserate with the family on the demise of their patriarch.

Ekiti State Deputy Governor, Mrs Olayinka Funmi Olayinka in her condolence message signed in the condolence register opened at the No1, Eso close, off Oduduwa crecsent, residence of the Esos, hailed the late Eso's integrity and virtues.

Olayinka said, "Daddy, we bless God for your integrity, commitment, hard work and all that you represented on earth. May you blossom with the Lord forever as we pray that God will give the family and all of us the grace to carry on with your legacies. We miss you but your times will be celebrated for ever, praise the Lord."

In his message, the church of Nigeria Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Ephraim Ademowo wrote, "We thank God for Justice Eso's life of love, encouragement, truth, fearlessness, commitment, Godliness and frankness. That Nigeria needs more people like Justice Eso since 1974 as a quintessential personality, full of life and vitality. May your gentle souls rest in perfect peace."

In the same vein, the retired Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Omotunde Ilori said, "sir, we celebrate you in the judiciary, because you were the pillar of justice and truth. You maintained justice with truth, integrity, courage and absolute, impeccable fairness to all litigants.

"You preferred real justice to technical justice. You were the Rose of justice. When will Nigeria have your type again, the Lord of truth will accept your great souls."

Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, described the late Justice Kayode Eso as a principled, courageous and erudite judge ever to adorn the Nigerian bench.

In his tribute, Falana said, "In Justice kayode's death the country? has lost one of the most courageous, consistent, principled and erudite judges to adorn the Nigerian bench. As a judge for over three decades he was never associated with corruption or abuse of office. His contributions to the Nigerian constitutional law and jurisprudence are unrivalled.

"His judgments in the cases of the State Vs Wole Soyinka, Awolowo v Shagari, COP v Agbaje, Akilu v Fawehinmi, Military Governor, Lagos State V Ojukwu, Anya v Iyayi, Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee v Fawehinmi etc, cannot be faulted on ground of law and facts. Even his dissenting judgments could not be ignored by the neo-colonial legal system.

Also, chairman, Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde, SAN, described the late Justice Eso as a legal Icon.

Ayorinde ?noted that the late Justice Eso "stood the test and was dogged in his beliefs. I had an excellent relationship with him as Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology where he was the Chancellor.

"I was able to enjoy the humane side of his nature and interacted with him on many issues. He was extremely kind to my family particularly when my own father passed on last year. I am sure that he will be missed by his family," he added.

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