Late Justice Kayode Eso
By Tobi Soniyi
Legal luminaries as well as judges continued to pay tributes to the late Justice Kayode Eso as the Supreme Court held a special court session in his honour Friday.
Justice Eso, died in a London hospital on Friday November 16, at 87.
In a valedictory speech in honour of the late jurist, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, who led a full panel of thirteen justices of the apex court noted that, the session was not to mourn but to "celebrate and pay tribute to a deserving icon of the legal profession."
According to her Justice Kayode Eso symbolised the characteristics of a thoroughbred Nigerian with the capacity to reside in any part of the country freely, and contributing immensely to the development of any community he found himself. The CJN said: "Hon. Justice Kayode Eso's career commenced on a rather dramatic note as his exceptional brilliance and due diligence shot him pass the position of Solicitor General, which was his next promotion as the Legal Draftsman, straight to the position of Acting judge of the High Court of Western Nigeria. Only six months after, he was confirmed a Judge of the High Court, Western Nigeria."
Enumerating his legendary achievements, Mukhtar said "Justice Eso was a key participant in a host of seminars including the Harvard International Seminar, Harvard University.
"Although the United States, States Department only invites guests once, Justice Kayode Eso was invited twice - once to undertake a six week-study of the United States Judicial System, especially that involving the Supreme Courts of Appeal and the second time, as a Supreme Court Justice to undertake an academic tour of the leading United States Universities with Law faculties, particularly Harvard, Yale and U.C.L.A...
"Justice Eso served the country in several extra-judicial capacities as Vice-Chairman of the Body of Benchers;Chairman, Committee on corruption and other Economic crimes - set up to find panacea to the ills in Nigeria", Mukhtar disclosed.
She revealed that the establishments of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), as well as the National Judicial Council, were a function of the recommendations of committees he headed.
Above all, the first female CJN said Eso "was a very principled gentleman, a legal icon of international repute whose legal and judicial sojourn on earth has left an enduring footprint in the Nigerian judiciary."
In his own eulogy on Eso, the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke(SAN) stated that, "by dint of hard work, courage, characteristic candour, commitment and selflessness, he impacted positively on our individual lives, the profession and the nation."
Adoke said: "My Lords, it is instructive to observe that Justice Kayode Eso served on the Supreme Court bench in era when the Supreme Court was widely acclaimed for its doggedness in the protection of individual rights and liberties."
The solemn event, which lasted barely an hour thirty minutes, was attended by the Governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, three former Chief Justices of Nigeria, Justices Muhammadu Lawal Uwais, Alfa Belgore and Dahiru Musdapher. Justices Umaru Kalgo and Sylvanus Onuh both retired justices of the Supreme Court were also in attendance.
Acting President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, judges as well as Senior Advocates of Nigeria were also in attendance.