This report from Sahara Reporters contradicts reports yesterday that Gov Chime denied detaining his wife. This report has more details about the press conference that took place in Enugu on Tuesday
Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State has confirmed reports that he is keeping his wife incarcerated, but that he is doing so in her interest.
“I wanted the best for her and that’s why I pleaded with the doctors to have her treated at home,” he stated during a press conference in Enugu. “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.”
Offering an explanation about his decision, the governor said, “My wife has some medical challenges and it would be very unkind for me to talk about her condition on the pages of newspapers,” the governor said at a strange press conference in Govt House.
“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.
With Clara Chime by his side at the conference, he disclosed that the battle concerning his wife’s health situation commenced even before his 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 stabilized, 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 laptop.”
Asserting that he would never say or do anything to undermine the dignity of his wife, he said his “big blunder” was to have allowed her access to the telephone and her laptop, against the advice of her doctor, a mistake for which he is paying dearly.
“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 not have been more convenient for me if I allowed her to stay and be treated in the hospital?”
In a story broken by SaharaReporters one week ago in which she begged human rights bodies to come to her rescue, Mrs. Chime complained bitterly that two psychiatrists, Dr. Onwukwe and Dr. Agumuo, had prescribed “all kinds of drugs that ends up keeping me acute depressed and also drives me into hallucinations.”
Dr. Aham Agumuo, identified as Mrs. Chime’s neuro-psychiatric doctor, was present at the conference along with Tony Igwe, her elder brother; as well as Mrs. May Oji and Dr. Jide Chime, the governor’s siblings.
Following that first complaint, human rights lawyer Femi Falana wrote a letter to the Inspector-General of Police on her behalf urging him to have her released. She then wrote to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) with the same complaint of unlawful detention by her husband.
Offered a chance to speak at the press conference, for a long time Mrs. Chime was silent, ignoring persuasion from her husband and her brother. At a point, her brother Tony took her to an adjacent room where they spent a few minutes together before returning to the table. Tony then declared that she was willing to talk but Mrs. Chime dramatically delivered only another round of silence.
Eventually, the First Lady said: “You (referring to the governor) and my doctor can speak on my behalf.”
To that, the governor politely replied: “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 merely said: “My doctor and I don’t have any problem.”
Concerning the petition to the NHRC, 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. But she admitted that she wrote a letter to Dr. Agumuo and another doctor overseas to whom she was introduced, but said she did not know 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. Her grouse was that she had not been allowed to leave the premises, but it was learned that she attended Mass last Sunday.
Governor Chime chipped in: “All I want to reassure you is that she is safe here. Her confinement within the premises for now is at the instance of her doctor who is here. 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. 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.”
Challenging the petition to the IGP by Mr. Falana, the governor 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.”
He described the development as the penalty a public officer faces, adding that when he 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,” he stated. “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.”
He did not identify the people or their motives.