TASLIM,Prof Olawale Elias

Born 11 November 1914,






B.A. LL.B. In 1947

He was the first African judge to be appointed president of the International Court of Justice in The Hague. He was a legal giant in Nigeria and the world, having been the longest-serving judge at the ICJ.
Gender: Male
Marital Status
  • Married
Name of Spouse Ganiat Yetunde Fowosere
Father's Name
Father's Status N/A
Mother's Name
Mother's Status N/A
Number of Male Children 3
Number of Female Children 2

Gbolahan, Olusoji, Olufemi, Yeside and Olufolake Elias

Profession Jurist , University Lecturer
Working Experience he worked as an assistant in the Government Audit Department. In 1935 he joined the Nigerian Railway and served in the Chief Accountant's Office for nine years.
Church Missionary Society Grammar School and Igbobi College in Lagos. University College London

Elias left a long and lasting legacy including his many publication which are listed below.

1. Nigerian Land Law and Custom 1951
2. Groundwork of Nigerian Law 1954
3. Nature of African Customary Law 1956
4. Government and Politics in Africa 1961
5. Nigeria: Development of its Laws and Constitution 1967
6. Africa and the Development of International Law 1972
7. The Modern Law of Treaties 1974

Between 1960 and 1972, he was employed as Nigeria’s Attorney General and became the first Nigerian to hold the post of Minister of justice (1960-1966) after Nigeria gained independence from Britain in 1960. From 1972 to 1975, Elias served his country as Chief Justice of the Nigerian Supreme Court. Summarising his career life, D. A. Bekoe claimed that:
Elias’ fame quickly spread far and wide. No wonder then that he became Constitutional Adviser to the British West Indies, 1959; Somaliland, 1960; and Malawi, 1960. He was Chairman of the United Nations Constitutional and Legal Experts to draft a Constitution for the Congo (Leopoldville), 1961 and 1962.

Elias was Vice President of the ICJ between 1979 and 1982, before occupying the position of president between 1982 and 1983. He was a valued and respected jurist worldwide and a member of several African and United Nations legal bodies.
In 1991 the International Court of Justice announced that:
Judge Elias was a member of the international Court of Justice (1961-1975), General Rapporteur (1965-1966) and Chairman (1970) of the United Nations International Law Commission. He further participated, as a member of his country’s delegation, in many conferences and committees of the United Nations. He was also a member of the Expert Committee which drafted the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Charter (1963), Chairman of the Arbitration (1964) and Vice-President of the World Bank Administrative Tribunal (1980-1981).

Alongside these distinguished posts, Elias was a Scholar of the Inner Temple (1946–9). , a Professor, Emeritus and a pioneer in many fields. He taught law at the University of Lagos, Nigeria, where he was a Professor and Dean of the faculty of law. In 1956, he was a visiting Professor of Political Science at the University of Delhi, a Governor of the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University in 1957 and in 1961, he was conferred Queen’s Counsel.

14 August 1991
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