By Our Reporter
IT was a great day for Nigeria and its international image recently when one of the top ten cities in the United States of America, the City of Miami, received Nigeria’s Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme of the Federal Court of Appeal, an erudite scholar who is the first female doctorate degree holder to serve as a judge.
As the summer months were winding down,Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme of the Calabar Judicial Division of the Federal Court of Appeal visited Miami, the largest city in the State of Florida, as part of her annual vacation. A supposedly quiet and private weekend visit turned out to be one with a pleasant surprise and an unexpected celebration. It was a providential circumstance and one auspicious occasion that the municipal government used to acknowledge the positive contribution of Nigerians and the country’s improving international image as well as the outstanding success of one of its judicial stars.
The City of Miami, through the Office of the Mayor received Justice Nwosu-Iheme in the historic City Hall building in Coconut Grove on August 10, 2015, as part of its promotion of tourism through routine recognition of august visitors. It was a good day for Nigeria’s image and the sterling impact of its diaspora community was extolled by the Mayor, Tomas Regalado, amidst pomp and ceremony, and in the presence of top city officials who witnessed the august visit to the historic City Hall.
The highlight of the extraordinary event was the presentation of the official “Key to the City “of Miami by Mayor Tomas Regalado to Honorable Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme. This is one of the few rare occasions in recent history where the city extended recognition to visiting officials from sub-Saharan Africa. The city is known for being selective in its reception program and had denied a platform to tyrants or dictators and their collaborators in the past. But this was one opportunity that no one could pass considering the extraordinary credentials of the august visitor.
It is recalled that Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme had garnered several recognitions both locally and internationally in the past. As far back as August 2005, the fifty-ninth (59th) session of the United Nations’ General Assembly elected Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme, among the 27 ad-litem judges to the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in Eastern Europe. The ad-litem judges were elected for a four-year term of office with their curricula vitae published as UN document A/59/888. Justice Nwosu-Iheme who obtained her Ph.D in law has also been a recurring feature in several successful electoral panels in Nigeria. Notable among her early accomplishments in her judicial career was her adept handling of the highly celebrated case of the Otokoto murder, in Imo State, an outcome that was met with public commendation.
It was vintage Nigeria as the country and its historic leading role in aspects of international jurisprudence was recognized during the event. Key city officials that witnessed the epoch-making event included the City Manager, Daniel Alfonso; City Attorney, Victoria Mendez; Assistant City Manager, Dr. Nzeribe Ihekwaba; and NET Director, Vanessa Acosta, Esq. The visiting party included the three sons of the Justice: Mr. Uzodinma Nwosu-Iheme, Barrister Uzoma Nwosu-Iheme, and Mr. Nnamdi Nwosu-Iheme, who is an engineer. The honor was well received as expected.
Presentation of the Key to the city
In the United States, the presentation of the ‘Key to the City” of a municipality is a unique acknowledgement of the unique contributions, community service and work, as well as nature and record of the recipient. It serves to make a bold statement through the recognition of the recipient’s public vitae by bestowing a badge of civic honor to the august visitor, resident, investor, business entity, or organization, and in some cases as an acknowledgment of a worthy ambassador .
Speaking with our reporter, the Assistant City Manager and Chief of Operations for the City of Miami, Dr. Nzeribe Ihekwaba extolled the sterling qualities of the honoree as a testament of the many professional accomplishments of a successful personage from Nigeria, and even as many local Nigerians in Diaspora demonstrate in Miami through their contributions to public and community service. He extended his well-deserved congratulations to Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme on the recognition.