Show mastery of the law, be courageous Oguntade tells judges

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Lagos – A retired Justice of the Supreme Court, George Oguntade , in Lagos on Tuesday urged serving judges and justices to remain steadfast and show mastery of the law amid the turbulent times pervading the nation’s judiciary.

Oguntade spoke at a launch and public presentation of a book in honour of the the late Justice of the Supreme Court, Kayode Eso.

The book which has four parts, is entitled “Justice Kayode Eso, Beacon of Judicial Activism.”

Oguntade said:“I wish to use this opportunity to encourage my brothers still serving on the bench at all cadres to remain steadfast and courageous in carrying out their functions.

“This can only be achieved by a continuous mastery and development of the law.

“The times we are in are turbulent, but remain steadfast, the tides will see you through.”

Eulogising Eso, Oguntade recalled: “The late Hon. Justice Kayode Eso during his time on the bench particularly at the Supreme Court where he retired in 1990, has constantly demonstrated that the essence of judicial function is to continuously develop and strengthen the law and its resultant effect.

“This he was able to achieve by intelligibly applying provisions of the law to scenarios not fully envisaged by the drafters of the law and arriving at what many soon after referred to as ‘locus classicus.’

“The judgments of Eso have been very helpful to me in my career on the judicial bench, he was an upright and courageous judge who fearlessly defended the truth.

He advised lawyers to be hardworking, pointing out that late Eso would not have attained great heights if legal practitioners, who appeared before him did not put him to task by challenging his intellect.

Osun Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, who also spoke at the occasion, extolled the virtues of Eso, an indigene of the state.

Aregbesola, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Mrs Titilayo Laoye-Tomori, said: “Eso was a thoroughbred Ijesa whose life, exposure notwithstanding, would speak in Ijesa dialect in a way that will baffle a native born Ijesa who had barely gone beyond the boundaries of the kingdom.

“The book is a compilation of Eso’s landmark judgments in a judicial career starting from his appointment in Western Nigeria in 1965, spanning 25 years, the last of 12 of which he spent at the Supreme Court until his retirement in 1990.

“Eso belonged to the rarest breed of legal minds whose life and times was dedicated to law as the instrument in service of justice for the rich and poor, for the weak and strong.”

Reviewing the book, Prof. Ademola Popoola, the Dean of the Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun, said the book was written to immortalise Eso.

He said the 789-page book had been scored high by another retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice A.G Karibi-Whyte, who described it as wondrously lucid and provocatively forward.

He also described Eso’s pen as his ammunition and the court the battleground.

The book contains a compilation of Eso’s judgments, learned articles by distinguished lawyers and scholars, biography, tributes to the late jurist.

During Eso’s 12 -year service at the Supreme Court, he delivered 463 judgments, 390 of which were concurring judgments, 69 lead judgments and four dissenting judgments.

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