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ALLEGED RIGHTS VIOLATION OF MRS. CHIME: HURIWA WANTS GOVERNOR TO APOLOGIZE OR BE IMPEACHED

By Emmanuel Onwubiko
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A democracy and development focused Non-Governmental Organization -HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA [HURIWA] has tasked the Enugu state governor Mr. Sullivan Chime to tender public apology over the alleged human Rights violation of his now estranged wife Mrs. Clara Chime. The group has also carpeted the Enugu state governor for failing in the last half decade to ensure the passage and domestication of the Child Rights Acts or any pro-women or pro-children legislation. The non-inclusion of any woman contestant in the recently conducted controversial Enugu state local government election in which only men emerged in the entire state-wide local government area councils, HURIWA has asked the National Council of Women Societies to protest in the strongest possible terms the marginalization of the female gender in the political scheme of things in Enugu state under Governor Chime.

These positions formed the fulcrum of the media statement issued by the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria [HURIWA] to mark the December 10th 2013 World Human Rights Day in Abuja which was made available to newsmen. excerpts of the media statement endorsed by the National Coordinator of the Rights group Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko; Director of media Miss Zainab Yusuf and the Gender Affairs Director Miss. Sylvia Nneka Okonkwo [ESQ] are as follows;

Gentlemen of the forth estate of the realm, we welcome you to this media event, which is one among the chain of events that we carefully planned and started implementing since December 10th 2013 as our contribution to the celebration of this year's World Human Rights Day by the international community on 10th December 2013. We were to address you on Tuesday December 10th 2013, but our meeting with the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Adesina on the theme of FOOD SECURITY AS HUMAN RIGHT took the better part of our whole day on 10th December 2013.

Gentlemen of the media, you would have noticed that HURIWA was among the first registered Non-Governmental Organizations with strong focus on development and democracy to have intervened through constructive dialogue and interface in the media on the raging controversy surrounding the groundswell of international condemnation over allegations of arbitrary detention of the wife of the Enugu state Governor, Mrs. Clara Chime in the confines of a strong room inside the Enugu State Government House, allegedly on the orders of her husband.

Recall that HURIWA commended Chief Femi Falana [SAN] for accepting the challenge to seek redress for the detained Clara Chime and also recall that the National Human Rights Commission at the instance of a petition filed in that regard by Chief Falana stepped into the matter and commenced investigation into the allegation of illegal detention of a Nigerian citizen inside a Government House built with tax payers' money, but turned into an illegal detention facility allegedly by the Governor of Enugu State. Unfortunately, the said 'PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE' happens to be no other person but the second legally married wife of the same Governor who is being alleged as the human right violator in this case.


Recall also that the Governor had interpretatively admitted aspects of the said allegation, but on the flimsy and unsustainable excuse that his wife had medical challenges. It is a most hollow and pointless excuse, which has been widely condemned by the human rights community and men and women of good conscience since Enugu State Government House is not a medical facility.

Gentlemen, recall also that while the National Human Rights Commission began the said independent investigation, reports emerged that the Enugu State Governor allegedly bundled his wife out of her alleged detention facility and sent her packing to God knows where. At the last count, we read in some media accounts that the helpless woman had moved in with her sister somewhere in the Southern part of Nigeria even as a suspected sponsored blackmail soft sale story circulated the unsubstantiated story that Mrs. Chime checked into a mental home in the United Kingdom.

We want to unequivocally register our displeasure over the foot-dragging of the National Human Rights Commission on this matter. We are appalled that several weeks after this sad, shameful and embarrassing development became public knowledge, and months after the same story spread as hot cake in the grapes vine, the Commission has failed so far to exhibit the desired level of urgency, transparency, and accountability on this matter. The Commission is yet to come clean and tell Nigerians its findings in black and white, backed up by empirical medical data and forensic evidence regarding the claims that Mrs. Clara Chime indeed underwent grueling, sordid, senseless and insensitive maltreatment as well as flagrant breaches of her constitutionally protected human rights, including the fundamental human rights to association, movement, and freedom of speech whilst she was allegedly kept under locks and keys on the orders of the Governor prior to the intervention of God fearing individuals including the reputable legal practitioner and Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

Whilst being mindful of the fact that we need not unduly intervene in anyone's private affair, but whenever there are public allegations of human rights violations that remain uninvestigated or shabbily investigated, our consciences oblige us to vigourously campaign and draw the national and international attention of civilized people and to campaign for immediate redress of these violations, irrespective of the social status of the offender and the victim.

Furthermore, as we mark the World Human Rights Day, gentlemen, we regret to inform you that our findings show that Enugu is notorious for disrespecting the fundamental human rights of women and children. It is sad, yet imperative, therefore, to enlighten the world that:

a. Enugu State is among the few states yet to domesticate many of the pro-women and pro-children legislations like the Child's Rights Act of 2003. In fact, Enugu is one of the 12 States of the federation and the only state in Southern Nigeria yet to domesticate the Child's Rights Act 2003.

b. Enugu recently staged a choreographed and massively fixed local council election that denied totally disenfranchised and denied the women chairmanship of any of the 17 Local Government Council. This is the height of marginalisation in a country where women constitute over 60 percent of the populations.


In view of the foregoing, therefore, we hereby:

1. Demand that the National Human Rights Commission immediately informs Nigerians in black and white of her findings regarding these allegations of arbitrary and inhumane arrest and illegal detention of the wife of the Enugu State Governor allegedly by her now estranged husband who is said to have also separated from his first wife in alleged rancorous and indecorous manners.

2. Demand that the National Human Rights Commission should also publicly seek evidence from people in the know regarding the allegation that Mrs. Chime prior to her latest 'sack' from her alleged matrimonial 'detention' facility was indeed allegedly maltreated and denied her fundamental rights to freedom of association and movement. Human rights are sacrosanct, inviolable, inalienable and importantly UNIVERSAL and their breaches must be investigated promptly, impartially, and independently and the outcome transparently rendered through publicly accountable process.

3. Demand that within one week, the National Human Rights Commission should brief Nigerians on its independent findings derived from concrete empirical and verifiable evidence on the groundswell of allegations of breaches of the fundamental human rights of the wife Mrs. Sullivan Chime by the Governor.

4. State unequivocally that we will mobilise the human rights community and men and women of good conscience to a mother of all protests should there be the slightest conjectures or half-baked, concocted, and manufactured stories to favour Governor Sullivan Chime in this matter. We will also head to the United Nations Human Rights Council and the Office of the UN RAPPORTEUR in charge of United Nations Women Commission to demand redress.


5. Call on all women societies and indeed the National Council of Women Societies to stand up and defend the human rights of the wife of the Enugu State Governor, a violation, which the alleged violator, Governor Sullivan Chime has curiously justified in some ways as widely reported in the media, on the grounds of her alleged illness. Enugu State Government House is not a private individual's residence or a mental home, but the abode of a PUBLIC OFFICER elected by the people of Enugu State, and no one would rightly accuse the human rights community of playing the ignominious role of an interloper on this matter.

6. Demand unreserved public apology, in the meantime, from Governor Sullivan Chime within one week from today for these series of alleged violations of the rights of his wife and the womenfolk in a democratic society.

7. Demand that the Enugu State House of Assembly immediately commences processes of impeachment of Governor Sullivan Chime in the event of his failure to tender public apology and make redresses. Indeed, a proactive legislature ought to have since commenced impeachment processes against Governor Chime for the very reason that the image of that state has been brought into disrepute by the level of allegations of illegal detention of the First Lady of a state allegedly by armed security operatives serviced with taxpayers money.

8. Demand greater diligence and transparency in our political recruitment processes as a man who has obviously been unable to manage two consecutive marriages allegedly could not have been the best material to be entrusted with governance of an entire state.

9. Demand that the National Human Rights Commission should be aware that the reputation of MRS CHIME is at risk if this matter of rights violations is undermined through behind the table dealing. Justice delayed is justice denied and our women deserves all the fundamental rights that are inherently theirs as respected members of the human community same as their male counterparts.



FOR HURIWA:

Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko
National Coordinator.

Barrister Nneka Okonkwo;
Gender Specialist[ HURIWA]

Ms. Zainab Yusuf;
National Media Director.