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FOR THE RECORD

Remarks By His Excellency, Hon Justice Sylvanus Adiwere Nsofor, Nigerian Ambassador To The United States Of America At Leadership Annual Conference, Yesterday

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Protocol:

May I seize this opportunity to congratulate H.E. Muhammadu Buhari, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on his efforts towards ensuring free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria come February 16 and March 12, 2019.

And I must salute him for his courage and energy working assiduously to deliver on his election campaign promises of proving security, diversifying the economy and most importantly, fighting against the canker worm called corruption. Victory will be his. It is already his.

Now, I shall crave your indulgence to share with me, my own personal experience helping in the fight against corruption with my own cousin whom I sent to prison in Aba where I was serving as a trial Judge. This was about 1980.

This was how it happened. Corruption may be likened to or, with an Octopus. It has and it comes in various and varied forms and shapes – directly or, indirectly. It employs several devises.

While I was in Aba, on a Saturday, a Peugeot 505 saloon car drove into our quarters No. 4 Golf Course Avenue. There was no police on duty at or in the premises.

Low and behold! My cousin and his fried arrived from Port Harcourt. My wife was not in the country at the time.

My cousin is from the village – Umudei-Oguta. I am from Umudei village too. His son or daughter, by our native laws and custom, cannot get married to my daughter or son.

I welcomed him and his friend and entertained them as best as I could. He introduced his friend warmly to me and opened up telling me fully in details the purpose of their visit. And I listened patiently as a Judge.

His friend’s family of Aba had a land dispute with another family also of Aba-Ngwa. The suit was pending before me as a Judge in Court No. 3.

His friend and family would like to find out, to know how I could be of help and what I would do to enter judgement in favour of his friend’s family.

When he concluded, his friend spoke. I listened too, patiently. He elaborated and emphasised the importance of his family.

To cut the long narrative short, I told my cousin, pointing to my photograph in the Scarlet Robes, hanging on the wall in the living room, that he would rather like me disrobed and dismissed. He swore he would never ever contemplate such a thing.

I summoned Mr Peter Nwachukwu – our cook, to go to either the Governor’s Rest House or to Hon Justice D.E Njeribako’s Quarters and call me any police officer there on duty. He went and called two police officers – A Corporal and a Private.

I ordered the police officers to arrest my cousin and his friend and take them in their car, to prison and detain them therein till Monday. The police arrested and took them away to the prison.

On Monday morning, the police escorted the detainees to court while I was sitting.

My cousin and his friend appeared in court bare footed.

Each of them wore a shirt and a pair of trousers.

The police had prepared a charge sheet, which they gave me to vet.

I asked my cousin and his friend to introduce themselves to the court and tell the court the reason for their appearance in Court.

My Cousin could not speak. He was only weeping- what I termed, ‘coatis lacrimis.’

I then narrated to the Court loudly and clearly, the circumstances and thereafter tore the charge sheet and ordered them to “disappear”. And they did.

Thanks for your patience and indulgence in listening.

Now, to why we are here!

The theme of this year’s topic is: “Multiparty Democracy and Peaceful Elections: Connecting the dots”.

The topic is apt. It is self-explanatory and clear. It truly reflects the present political transition in the history of our nation, Nigeria.

Now, as the chairman of the occasion, my sole role is to preside and ensure a seamless and smooth event. I would, therefore, not permit myself to delve into the academic and/or professional aspect of the topic. Why?

Because only and , only because the keynote Speaker, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has exhaustively dealt with it, as justice demanded. For me, a repetition does not make for emphasis. No.

Besides, other learned speakers before him, fully elucidated the federal government’s goals of free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections. They reflect the will and conscience of the people of Nigeria. So, let the people speak!

Pausing here for a moment, permit me to say, ‘hic et nunc’ that I am most deeply impressed with the orgainers’ foresight and initiative putting together an event such as this which ultimately led to the selection of the “LEADERSHIP Person of The Year.”

My warm and sincere congratulations to the 2018 LEADERSHIP Awardees!

Congrats!

Ladies and gentlemen, it is our collective duty and obligation as a people and a nation to uphold the sacred values.

Of the “Multiparty Democracy and Peaceful Elections.” They are a “sine qua non” to Nigeria’s nation building.

Afterwards, what is the essence of democracy, if not allowing the electorate to vote for and, elect the candidates of its choice through the ballot box in free and fair ways. And this is a legacy, we can proudly bequeath to our younger generations.

The International Community and, particularly the USA – the country of my accreditation as Nigeria’s Ambassador cum Personal Representative of Mr President, are desirous of seeing free, fair and transparent elections in our country- Nigeria.

The United States’ strategy in ensuring credible elections is:

i) to support free and fair election process,

ii) to prevent and mitigate election violence and malpractices,

iii) to support civic and political engagements in the country.

Similarly, other countries around the world are hoping for the conduct of free elections devoid of any violence.

Free and fair elections in Nigeria are not merely our interest. They are, most certainly, also, of or, in the interest of peace and of stability in all of Africa, and the interest of the economic wellbeing of other countries around the world.    

The future and destiny of our country lies solely, totally and completely in our hands. Indeed! Each nation is the architect of its own fortune.

Nigerian is blessed with diverse resources, blessed with vibrant and resilient population. I pray you, therefore, and passionately plead with you and implore you never ever to rest on your oars. But to employ yourselves meaningfully, working unremittingly and diligently to ensure that our oneness, our unity, is preserved through multiparty democracy and peaceful elections.

Yes we can.

In conclusion, I enjoin each and every one of us here present to be a patriotic Nigerian, to be a law abiding Nigerian, before the elections, during the elections and after the elections.

My prayer for all of us, therefore, is to remain ‘Semper Et Ubique Fidelis,’ to Nigeria, to defend her unity, to uphold her honour and glory, ‘Dum Vita Manebit.’

Once again I say, ‘Gratias!’

May the Lord God bless Nigeria.

May the Lord God bless the Leadership Group.

May the Lord God bless each and every one of us.    

I wish you safe return journey to your respective places of abode.

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