Wife of the Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime, Clara, has faulted the report of the National Human Rights Commission on her incarceration by her husband. She said the report was set to damage her reputation.
This was contained in a letter of complaint she wrote to her lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, which was made available to SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday.
The NHRC had on Friday released a preliminary report on its investigations into Clara’s complaints of rights abuse.
Speaking on the report, the Executive Secretary of the commission, Prof. Bem Angwe, said the bone of contention between Chime and his wife was a disagreement over the procedure for the treatment of her occasional hallucinations and depression.
However, Clara, in the letter, said, “I am very disappointed to read what has been narrated by the National Human Rights Commission. Apart from the fact that the information was largely false, it showed lack of sensitivity in publishing sensitive medical detail.
“This has the effect of tarnishing and damaging my reputation. It is as though the commission set out to ridicule me. I made it clear to them that I had a nervous breakdown and found it inexplicable as to how hallucinations featured as part of my symptoms.
“It is important to make this clear, so that the public should be made aware of this and that the Commission should recognise part of her ethos in protecting human dignity. It has been suggested by some quarters that the Commission appears biased already because of the profile of the person whose reputation is at stake.
“I want to believe that the Commission would approach my case with open mind and in particular recognise me as a victim of crime. I hope that common sense would prevail and that the Commission should now retract the damaging publication and stop stigmatising me.”
The First Lady had in a petition written on her behalf by Falana accused the governor of illegal detention.
Following the petition, the NHRC had written Chime, demanding access to his wife.
Angwe, however, informed journalists on Friday that a five-man investigative panel from the commission had met with those most concerned with the issue and inspected the said apartment.
The NHRC scribe said the panel held private discussions with Chime, the complainant, Clara; the governor’s sibling, Dr. Jide Chime; the First Lady’s physician, Dr. Aham Agumoh; and her elder brother, Tony Igwe.
Another person was one Dr. A. Uzegu, a London-based consultant psychiatrist and forensic examiner, who is the doctor preferred by Clara, through teleconference.
Angwe confirmed that for the last two weeks, Clara had been confined to her apartment on medical advice for purposes of medical maintenance and security. He further disclosed that the panel learnt that the First Lady was allowed access to her son after his school and lesson hours.
While reacting through a statement on Saturday, the Chairman, NHRC, Mr. Chidi Odinkalu, said there was no basis for the claims widely circulated in the media.
He said the commission had not made any pronouncement on the state of health, physical or mental, of the complainant (Clara) or any other party in the case.
Odinkalu said, “The commission takes seriously its responsibility to fully respect the confidentiality of parties before it and to reach its decisions only on the basis 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.”
The NHRC boss said as a practice, cases and complaints received by the commission were processed in accordance with the National Human Rights Commission Act (as amended) and with the Standing Orders and Rules of Procedure of the Commission.