Justice Kayode Eso, one of Nigeria’s most respected Justices is dead. Justice Eso died on Friday morning while on an annual holiday with his family in England. He was born on the 18th September 1925 in Ilesa, Osun State. He graduated from the Trinity College, Dublin with a Bachelor of Law with Honours in Legal Science in 1953. He obtained his Masters in 1956.
He was known to be fair and principled all his life. As a legal practitioner, he defended black miners in Jos while they were protesting against the discriminatory practices of the British colonial authorities.
As a Supreme Court Judge, Justice Eso delivered a total of 463 judgments, 390 of which were concurring judgments, 69 lead judgments and 4 dissenting judgments. He made a number of landmark judgments including the “Mystery Gunman case” involving Professor Wole Soyinka who was alleged to have taken over a Government owned radio corporation armed with a handgun and compelled the staff to make a certain broadcast which the Government found offensive. Eso returned a not guilty verdict and not long after, he was transferred to Akure which then was seen as a rural station.
Another of them was the unforgettable, celebrated case of Chief Obafemi Awolowo Vs Alhaji Shehu Shagari, in 1979. The Apex Court in deciding the law relating to election cases had by a majority of 6-1, affirmed the election of Alhaji Shagari as duly elected President. However, in a show of sheer courage, Justice Eso dared to be different. His decision in this case gave him a legendary image. In his dissent opinion, Justice Eso held that at least two-third of 19 states could only be 13 and not 12 2/3.
Justice Eso who was also the proprietor of the Bodija International College, Ibadan is survived by children and grandchildren.