A few weeks back a story broke about Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu. Allegations by his wife suggested she was being held against her will. Indeed the dear lady had written to the National Human Rights Commission and secured the services of renowned Lawyer and Human Rights Activist, Femi Falana, to intervene and come to her aid. Well apparently, the Human Rights Commission took the matter seriously and have since commenced investigations.
Below is a press statement released by the Chairman of the Governing Council in relation to the matter.
PUBLIC STATEMENT BY CHIDI ANSELM ODINKALU, PH.D (LSE); CHAIRMAN, GOVERNING COUNCIL, NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA.
I have been inundated by inquiries about the on going processes of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in relation to a recent complaint initiated by Mrs. Clara Chime.
As the complainant in this case is the spouse of a senior political office holder, this complaint has naturally elicited somewhat fevered public interest.
In connection with this matter and in the past 72 Hours, the Commission deployed a high level investigation team to Enugu. Professor Bem Angwe, the Executive Secretary of the Commission, led the team.
Upon returning from Enugu, the Executive Secretary, reflecting the public interest in this case, exercised judgement in authorizing and issuing on 8 November 2013 a public statement on the visit to Enugu. The full text of this statement is below.
As a practice, cases and complaints received by the Commission are processed in accordance with the National Human Rights Commission Act, (as amended) and with the Standing Orders and Rules of Procedure of the Commission.
Having carefully reviewed the work so far undertaken by the staff of the Commission, I find no bases in them for the claims or speculation, widely circulated in the media, that the Commission has pronounced on the state of health, physical or mental, of the complainant or indeed of any other party in this case.
The Commission takes seriously its responsibility to fully respect the confidentiality of parties before it and to reach its decisions only on the bases of law and evidence.
I should clarify that the team that the Commission sent to Enugu did not include any medical personnel. It had neither a mandate nor the expertise to pronounce on such matters and has clearly not done so. This is evident on the face of the Statement by the Executive Secretary.
Allegations also that the Commission may have been compromised in the conduct of the case are both factually inaccurate and manifestly unfounded.
While we remain grateful for the growing interest from the public in the work of the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria and support for this work, I wish to please appeal to the public to respect the rights and dignity of the parties to pending cases and respect the integrity of the processes of the Commission, guaranteed by its Governing Council.
The National Human Rights Commission received a complaint from the wife of the Governor of Enugu State Her Excellency Mrs. Clara Chime, in which she alleged to have been incarcerated and subjected to horrific and intolerable conditions that curtailed her fundamental freedoms and threatened the enjoyment of her human rights.
The Commission wrote to the Governor and demanded for access to the complainant in order to obtain more details and to carry out a thorough investigation of the issues raised in the complaint.
Yesterday, I led a team of investigators to the Government House Enugu and we were granted unhindered access to both Mrs. Chime and her apartment in the Government House.
The investigating team held a five hour meeting with Governor Chime, Mrs. Clara Chime, Dr. Jide Chime (the Governor’s sibling) Dr. Aham Agumoh (who has been treating Mrs. Chime) and Tony Igwe, the complainant’s elder brother during which the complainant had an opportunity to state her case and also respond to the issues raised by her husband.
Dr. Uzegu A – a London based consultant psychiatrist and forensic examiner who is the doctor the complainant prefers, also joined the meeting through teleconference.
The team further held private sessions with Her Excellency Mrs. Clara Chime in her apartment, her husband, His Excellency Sullivan Chime, Mrs. Patience Igwe (Complainant’s mother), and Edwin Igwe her brother. All the parties spoke freely and expressed their positions clearly.
We have confirmed that for the last two weeks Mrs. Chime had been confined to her apartment on medical advice for purposes of medical maintenance and security. But she confirmed having possession and control of keys to her apartment, which the team also inspected. We further confirmed that access to her son is not denied after his school and lesson hours.
Both parties have agreed that Mrs. Clara has medical challenges but have disagreement over how to handle her medical condition. The complainant told the Commission that she has lost confidence in the Physician presently handling her condition and no longer wants him to treat her. She further requested to have medical opinion of other medical doctors acceptable to her.
Both parties have agreed that the Commission assemble a team of independent medical experts to review her medical condition and advise on further steps to be taken in respect of her treatment.
We want to thank His Excellency Governor Chime, and Her Excellency, Mrs. Clara Chime his wife and all the persons that we interacted with during our visit for their cooperation with the Commissions team of investigators.
We also want to assure all the parties and Nigerians that the Commission will continue with the investigation of this matter and take appropriate decision that will be in the interest of all the parties and the Commission will not hesitate to invoke its further mandate to mediate between the parties with a view to reconciling them.
Finally we wish to reassure all Nigerians that this Commission is determined to be the instrument that will represent their dreams and aspirations. We wish to make it very clear that in the realm of human rights protection, there is no immunity against impunity.
Prof. Bem Angwe