Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State on Tuesday night denied subjecting his wife, Mrs. Clara Chime, to house arrest and has vowed to protect her from being exposed to ridicule.
According to Punch newspapers, Chime set the record straight in the presence of some journalists, his wife and her elder brother, Mr. Tony Igwe.
Also present were the governor’s siblings, Mrs. May Oji and Dr. Jide Chime, as well as Mrs. Chime’s neuro-psychiatric doctor, Dr. Aham Agumuo, among a few others.
At the interview session, Mrs Clara Chime denied sending any petition to the National Human Rights Commission alleging unlawful detention by her husband.
She also denied hiring the services of Mr. Femi Falana to seek her freedom from an alleged house arrest at the Governor’s Lodge, Enugu.
Governor Chime noted it was quite heart-aching for him to speak out publicly about his wife’s health challenges but insisted 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,” the governor said. “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 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.”
At this point, the governor paused, heaved a deep sigh and continued his emotional 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 not 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.”
For quite a long time, Mrs. Chime could not speak, despite persuasions from her husband and brother. At a point, her brother, Tony Igwe took her to an adjacent room where they spent few our minutes before returning to join others.
Igwe now assured the rest people that she was willing to talk but it was another round of silence.
At last, Mrs. Chime said: “you (referring to the governor) and my doctor can speak on my behalf.” 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.”
The wife of the governor said: “My doctor and I don’t have any problem.” On the petition to the National Human Rights Commission, Mrs. Chime 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 says. 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, though she attended mass even 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.”
On his reaction to the petition to the IGP by 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.
“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.”
So could Falana have stooped this low to fabricate such a silly story ?