Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State has finally opened up on the current controversy trailing him on the alleged incarceration of his wife, Mrs. Clara Chime.
Mr. Chime while addressing journalists at the Governor’s lodge stated that his wife is sick and is being treated at home, thus her confinement.
The Governor addressed newsmen in the company of his wife, Mrs. Clara Chime, Mrs. Chime’s elder brother, Mr. Tony Igwe, the governor’s siblings – Mrs. May Oji and Dr. Jide Chime, as well as Mrs. Chime’s neuro-psychiatric doctor, Dr. Aham Agumuo among others.
The Governor stated that he does not intend to compromise the integrity of his wife; neither does he intend to discuss his family issues on the pages of newspapers. However, going by what he called a ‘campaign of calumny’ against his person, it has become imperative for him to clarify issues about his wife’s health condition.
“Well, my wife has some medical challenges and it would be very unkind of me to talk about her condition on the pages of newspapers. I have done everything to protect her integrity and I am not now going to expose her to ridicule because some people want to exploit her situation to drag me into a needless war of words.
“We’ve been battling this prior to my inauguration in 2011. It was so bad at a time that she had to be taken out of here (Governor’s Lodge) for treatment. When she stabilised, I pleaded with her doctors if she could be brought back here to be receiving her treatment at home and they graciously accepted.
“There was a time she was confined indoors and that was strictly on her doctors’ advice. She’s here and she can confirm or deny it. Also, the doctors then advised against allowing her access to telephones and her laptop,” he said.
The Governor stated that he would not deliberately compromise the freedom of his wife, adding that her confinement was on the instruction of her doctor who was in their company.
“Why would I want my wife locked up? If it had been that I had issues with her, there are many ways to resolve them. But that’s not the case. She is not well and I’m willing to do anything to support and protect her.
“It was always more convenient for me to have taken the easier route but that would have been very callous and ungodly.
“When I had my own health challenge, I was receiving treatment in London and thinking about her, making sure she received the right treatment. I’m forever grateful to her doctors who have done a great job.
“I cannot say or do anything to undermine her dignity. She is, first and foremost, my wife. The big blunder I committed was allowing her access to the telephone and her laptop, against the advice of her doctor. I’m paying dearly for that today, going by what is happening now.
“Both families are billed to meet very soon and after that, I’ll take a decision which will be in the interest of both parties,” the Governor said.
Mrs. Clara Chime showed indifference on the issue despite of passionate pleas from her husband and her elder brother to speak up. She only gave a terse response: “You (her husband) and my doctor can speak on my behalf.”
In his response, Governor Chime said: “Yes, I’m your husband and should ordinarily do so but you know I’m the one being accused of detaining you. This way, I’ve lost that privilege to speak for you, at least on this case.
“The story out there also is that your doctor is probably scared of me and gives you all kinds of drugs, sometimes against your wish.”
Mrs. Chime however remarked: “My doctor and I don’t have any problem.”
On the petition to the National Human Rights Commission, she corroborated an earlier text message she had sent to her husband that she had not met Falana or engaged him to seek her release from a purported unlawful custody.
Rather, she admitted that she wrote a letter to her doctor, Dr. Agumuo and another doctor overseas whom she was introduced to and wondered how the letter leaked to the public.
She also admitted that she was once confined to a room without access to her telephone and laptop. “That was when I had a serious crisis,” she said. Mrs. Chime also confirmed that she has the key to her room and controls her entry and exit, contrary to the claim in the petition that she had been locked up for asking to be allowed to leave.
According to her, the only grouse was that she had not been allowed to leave the premises, though she attends church services, mass even last Sunday.
Governor Chime in his remark on the purported petition to the Inspector-General of Police by lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, questioned the professional practice of the lawyer, adding that the lawyer never requested access to examine his wife and was denied.
“He’s my professional colleague but sometimes you leave people to their conscience.
“I won’t join words with him. Has he met this client of his as he claimed, to assess her state of mind and determine if she can give him the right brief to guide his case? Did he ask for access to her or to me and was denied? I leave it at that.
“That’s the penalty you face as a public officer. When I was receiving treatment in London, some of the newspapers reported that I had died in India. I’ve never been to India and had never applied for an Indian visa. Today, the story is that I’ve imprisoned my own wife in my residence. I know their motives but I wish those behind such wicked tales well.”
However, Mr. Femi Falana has said he remains unequivocal in his claim that he received a brief from the wife of Governor Chime, to represent her to secure her release from the illegal detention imposed by her husband, the Governor.
“I wish to say, without any fear of contradiction, that I have her instructions in writing to challenge her illegal detention at the Government House, Enugu.
“Through the assistance of some of the security personnel in the Government House she has since spoken to me on phone to confirm her instructions. Indeed, Mrs. Chime’s mother and her personal physician have also been in touch with me urging me to take all appropriate measures to secure her freedom from Governor Chime’s illegal confinement.”
The lawyer contradicted the Governor’s statement, pointing out that he does not need the instructions of citizens who are illegally detained to demand for their release.
“Without any instructions I am duty bound to file cases in court to secure the enforcement of the fundamental rights of detainees to personal liberty. For the avoidance of doubt, the doctrine of locus standi in the area of human rights has been abolished by the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009 which came into force on December 1, 2009,” he said.
Mr. Falana noted that with his statement to newsmen, the Governor has confirmed the illegal detention of his wife but was only justifying the illegality with the alleged health status of his wife.
“When Governor Chime was recently medically challenged he was not subjected to solitary confinement in the Government House but flown abroad for adequate medical treatment,” the lawyer said. “But Mr. Chime has conspired with his private physicians to sentence his wife to unwarranted mental torture and psychological trauma in a room in the Government House for the past four months. If Mr. Chime’s claim is correct that the wife is non-compos mentis, when was the Enugu Government House converted to a psychiatric hospital?
“Having confirmed the allegation that he has willfully infringed the fundamental rights of his wife to personal liberty, dignity of the person and freedom of movement Governor Chime should release his wife from illegal custody [and] be warned not to divert attention from the brutal abuse of the rights of his wife. If he and his doctors are convinced that she is medically challenged they should send her to a hospital for quick recovery,” said Mr. Falana.