Buhari and Nsofor

By Kazeem Ugbodaga

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has mourned, as the country’s Ambassador to the United State, Justice Sylvanus Adiewere Nsofor died at the age of 85.

He died on Thursday night.

Buhari, in a statement issued by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu on Friday, expressed heartfelt commiseration with the family, friends and associates of Nigeria’s out-going Ambassador to the United States, Justice Sylvanus Adiewere Nsofor over his demise.

Buhari, in a telephone call to Jane, the widow of the retired justice in New York on Friday, described Nsofor as “an outstanding judge of rare courage and truth who is not afraid to give justice to whom justice is due.”

Apparently referring to the 2003 presidential election during which Justice Nsofor delivered a minority judgment as a member of the Election Appeal Panel in favour of Gen. Buhari as candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), the President said the country would miss people with such exemplary pedigree.

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Buhari, who has directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work with Justice Nsofor’s family on the burial arrangements, prayed God to comfort all who mourn the departed jurist and grant his soul eternal rest.

A retired justice of Nigeria’s Court of Appeal, Nsofor assumed office as Nigeria’s ambassador to the United States on November 13, 2017.

The envoy succeeded Prof. Adebowale Adefuye, who also died towards the end of his tenure as Nigeria’s ambassador to US.

Born on March 17, 1935, in Oguta, Imo State, Nigeria, Nsofor graduated from London’s now-defunct Holborn College of Law in 1962. He also bagged an LL.M from the London School of Economics in 1964.

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The late envoy began teaching at Holborn College of Law in 1964 and later went into private practice the following year.

He was appointed to the bench in Nigeria in 1977, and served as a judge of the Imo state High Court. Nsofor was a justice on the Court of Appeal of Nigeria for 13 years until his mandatory retirement in 2005.

Nsofor cast the dissenting vote in a three-justice panel in a contested 2003 presidential race between Muhammadu Buhari, who was presidential candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

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When President Buhari was elected President twelve years later, he appointed Nsofor as Nigeria’s ambassador to the US, a top and strategic foreign post. Nsofor was then 82.