High Court of Justice, Benin City

Justice with a Traditional Face

This building and its annexes house the Edo State High Court, as well as the offices of the state judiciary. Several parts of the facade bear relief work by Ben Osawe (1931-2007). His three-story rendering is linear and geometric in conception, showing a figure dressed in the traditional beluku skirt-like garment while flourishing the ada ceremonial sword that indicates the right to take life. "Justice" is similarly linear, and is a Benin version of the blindfolded figure with scales in one hand.

Osawe, born to a father who was a Benin palace carver, but trained himself as a signmaker. He then schooled overseas in London, first at the School of Graphic Art, then at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts. He returned to Nigeria in 1966, but it took more than a decade for him to leave Lagos and take up residence in Benin City again. Familiar with many media--cement, metal, and wood--most of his work was modernist, ranging from the abstract to totally non-objective directions, although he also created several naturalistic bronzes, including one of Oba Erediauwa..



High Court of Justice Complex, Sapele Road, Benin City, Nigeria ~ Open 8 am-4 pm, Monday through Friday