Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime, has confirmed reports that his wife, Mrs. Clara Chime, is confined indoors at the state governor’s lodge but explained that her confinement was based on advice from her doctor following a mental problem.
This is just as the governor’s wife who is at the centre of the controversy, has denied sending any petition to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), alleging unlawful detention by her husband or contacting and engaging the services of Mr Femi Falana or any other lawyer to seek her freedom from alleged incarceration at the Government House, Enugu, as the latter claimed in his letter to media houses and the Inspector-General of Police.
Governor Chime who spoke to journalists Tuesday night at the government lodge, Enugu, in the presence of his siblings, Mrs. May Oji and Dr. Jide Chime, Mrs. Chime and her elder brother, Mr. Tony Igwe as well as Mrs. Chime’s neuro-psychiatric doctor, Dr. Aham Agumuo made a veiled reference to the wife’s mental illness.
He said while it was heart-aching for him to speak out publicly about his wife’s health challenges, it had become necessary for him to clear the air on the issue, adding that he would do everything no matter the personal pains to protect her from ridicule.
“Well, my wife has some medical challenges and it would be very unkind for me to talk about her condition on the pages of newspapers. I’ve done everything to protect her integrity and I’m 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 (Clara’s health challenges) 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 treatment at home and they graciously accepted,” the governor said.
Speaking further, he noted that: “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 laptop.”
At this point, the governor paused, and later resumed his narration: “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.
“Her brother is here; her doctor is here with us too. You people (journalists) can confirm anything you want from them either here and at your convenience. Would I have been a better husband if I asked her to leave the lodge because of her medical challenge? Would it have been more convenient for me if I allowed her to stay and be treated in the hospital? But like I said earlier, I wanted the best for her and that’s why I pleaded with the doctors to have her treated at home. That’s also why I allowed her access to her telephone and laptop which unfortunately led to the stage where I’m now being falsely accused of imprisoning or detaining my own wife.”
Governor Chime said both families were billed to meet very soon “and after that, I’ll take a decision which will be in the interest of both parties.”
On his reaction to the petition to the IGP by Falana, he said: “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.”
However, Mrs. Chime who did not speak for a long time despite persuasions from her husband and brother later spoke after her brother took her aside and spoke with her alone.
She later asked her husband and doctor to speak on her behalf but the governor declined, saying: “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 later denied having any problems with her doctor and corroborated an earlier text message she had sent to her husband saying she had neither met Falana nor engaged him to seek her release from purported unlawful custody.
She however admitted that there was a time she was confined to a room without access to her telephone and laptop but “That was when I had a serious crisis,” and that she wrote a letter to her doctor, Agumuo and another doctor overseas whom she was introduced to and was dismayed that the letter was leaked to the public.
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, maintaining that her grouse was that she had not been allowed to leave the premises, though she attended mass even last Sunday.
Meanwhile, the NHRC has written to the governor, requesting access to his wife, following the receipt of a petition sent to it by his wife.
Director of information and communication at the commission, Muhammed Ladan, in a statement, said the commission had commenced investigation into the petition.
Similarly, the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), south-east zone, in a statement issued by its director, Barr Olu Omotayo, condemned the alleged unlawful detention of Mrs Chime, saying in view of a recent petition dated November 1, 2013 and addressed to the Inspector General of Police by the Falana demanding the immediate release of Mrs. Chime from her continued unlawful detention, it believed this was the right time for all well-meaning citizens of the country to condemn this “barbaric, uncivilised and unlawful act by a governor who is the chief security officer of the state.”