The body of Late Justice Sylvanus Nsofor, immediate-past Ambassador of Nigeria to the U.S., is set to be flown back home on Wednesday for burial.
Nsofor, a retired justice of the Court of Appeal, died in the U.S. on Dec. 10 after a brief illness. He was 85 years old.
Ahead of the repatriation, the Nigerian Embassy in Washington D.C. hosted a service of songs in his honour on Tuesday evening.
The hybrid ceremony, held at the embassy in Washington, attracted dignitaries from the diplomatic community in the U.S., Nigerian officials, embassy staff and family members of the late envoy.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person attendance was limited to 10, while other guests, including officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, attended remotely.
Different speakers, including Ms Cam Henderson, Chief of Protocol at the U.S. Department of State, and Barfuor Jadjei-Barwuah, Ghanaian ambassador to the U.S., eulogised Nsofor’s exemplary life.
Henderson said the former ambassador was a great member of the diplomatic corps for whom she had “great affection”, due to his humility and sense of humour.
According to her, the late ambassador was always available at the State Department’s engagements with members of the diplomatic community.
“He was a gentleman and would be missed by members of the diplomatic corps and by us in protocol,” she said.
Jadjei-Barwuah also paid glowing tributes to Nsofor, describing him as as a friend who was “tough, honest, clear and straight as an arrow”.
He highlighted the late envoy’s humility with a story of how Nsofor insisted on personally opening the door for him when he visited him at the Nigerian embassy.
“We became friends afterwards, and I am having difficulty coping with the fact that I won’t see him any more,” he said.
In his eulogy, the former envoy’s son, Mr Cross Nsofor, stated that his father stood firmly for truth and justice, a legacy he pledged to sustain.
“Everybody talks about his transparency, his passion for justice, and I take a step back and ask: are we just echoing those words?
“We should live the truth and walk the truth. We his children will try and live and speak the truth no matter whose horse is gored.”
Speaking on behalf of the embassy staff, the Charge D’Affaires, Mrs Jane Adams, said Nsofor would be remembered as a very disciplined man.
Adams added that the late envoy was a man of his words, who hardly missed an opportunity to counsel members of staff on the need to live above board.
In a brief sermon, the officiating priest, Fr. Cornelius Ejiogu, said through Nsofor’s exemplary life, God is asking people to live lives worthy of emulation.
Ejiogu urged everyone to strive for righteousness, peace, and justice in order to make the world a better place.
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria, the former ambassador’s wife, Mrs Jean Nsofor, said she was taking solace in her husband’s good legacies.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Gabriel Aduda, attended the event virtually. (NAN)