THE MRS CLARA CHIME'S SCENARIOS
Few Months back, the organized civil society community in Nigeria were attracted to the outcry by the wife of the sitting governor of Enugu State that her husband and the executive governor of Enugu state and indeed a senior lawyer and one time Attorney General of Enugu State Mr. Sullivan Chime allegedly incarcerated her illegally within the premises of the Enugu state government house for months and has consistently disallowed her from receiving visitors on some nebulous ground that she was emotionally imbalance or so.
As information filtered out from her alleged 'detention' facility within the Enugu State government house, many civil society groups protested and urged the Federal Attorney General of the Federation and minister of justice Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke [SAN] and the Nigerian National Human Rights Commission [NHRC] to intervene and release her from the alleged imprisonment.
The National Human Rights Commission sensationally got involved and nearly burnt her reputation when the Executive Secretary Bem Angwe had reportedly alleged that the allegedly incarcerated first lady of Enugu state had emotional and psychological issues that made it imperative for her husband to take steps to search for the best medical solution.
When the press reported this version of the interim report of the Nigerian National Human Rights Commission which came out even without any valid medical and psychiatric test, reactions trailed this assertion from the Rights commission from many concerned human rights activists who felt that the National Human Rights Commission rushed into judgment without availing itself of all the authoritative evidence to warrant a conclusion that indeed Mrs. Clara Chime was never detained and that she had emotional problems.
The National Human Rights Commission then denied the media reports that it has issued a clean bill of health to the governor of Enugu State even as it stated that it will inaugurate a transparent probe of all the allegations of illegal incarceration made against the Enugu State governor by his wife.
As the controversy lingered on, the Lagos based cable television Channels TV got an exclusive interview which it showed the first lady of Enugu state who narrated her alleged ordeals in the hands of her husband and she indeed vowed never to return to her embattled marriage. She said that she has decided to call it quit and has headed to the court of law to seek legal redress.
The Channels televised the exclusive interview in the following way: The name Clara Chime lately rings the bell regarding the controversies surrounding her life as the First Lady at the Government House, Enugu. As Governor Sullivan Chime's wife, she was in the public eye for five years until things began to fall apart. She reached out to a member of the Nigerian human rights community, Femi Falana to help save her from her husband. Breaking her silence in this exclusive with Channel TV's Sola Seyela, Mrs. Chime recounted her ordeal in the hands of her husband, and thanked Nigerians for coming to her rescue.
Asked to narrate the issues the embattled first lady of Enugu state stated thus; ”He accused me of so many things, like the way he just told the whole world that I have mental problem; that my friends are into diabolical stuff, which I don't even know about. I don't even know about it. There a lot of things he said, I don't know where he got them from. I don't even know what to say about my husband. All I can say is that I wish him the best in life because he is the father of my son”.
How would you describe your stay at the Government House? She was asked and she responded thus; ”All I know is that I suffered from depression. The treatment I got from my husband led to it. And I won't say more than that so as not to destroy him. All I am here to do is just to clear the air; to let Nigerians to know that I thank them so much. I am now liberated. I thank God am happy, just very happy. I never believed I could be myself and be happy this way, not minding that I have gained lots of wait. Before, I was size 12-13, but now I am 10-20. I am going to get back to my normal size. It is the drug that they gave me that caused all this. They placed me on a medication they were not supposed to place me on. I had to go into research to know about the medication I was being given that made me to gain all this weight”.
Mrs. Chime continued that; ”Doctors in the UK told me it was a wrong prescription because that was not what I was supposed to be given. I am suffering from reactive depression because if your husband is not there for you; nobody is there for you, my dear you will break down. Four times I had tried to escape, but no way to escape. No way at all”.
”No. We are separated. You know, by what the law says, it is after two years of separation that you can file for divorce”, was her response when asked to tell Nigerians the status quo of her marriage”.
Nigerians who thought that these political drama was about to end were proved wrong when only few weeks back a publication appeared in one of the nation's newspapers whereby the embattled wife of the Enugu state governor was quoted to have recanted and has indeed apologized to her estranged husband and that she has returned home. This story which wasn't used in any other paper to the best of my knowledge is yet to be backed up by photographic or television evidence just the same way that the alleged incarceration was relayed to the World audience which elicited the interest of the civil society community and some of these groups spent their hard earned money to fight on her side because of the perception that she was being victimized by her husband. For accountability and transparency, there is the need for the National Human Rights Commission to furnish Nigerians with the details of the probe it initiated concerning these scenarios of alleged detention of the First Lady of Enugu State so that it can clear its name from any innuendo of compromise.
Some analysts had alleged that the Enugu State governor's marriage to Mrs Clara was political since she was said to have unimpeded access to the family of the then President Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar'adua [now late]. The commentators alleged that the Enugu state governor had allegedly married her to have soft landing politically and even in the eye of the law should his election be challenged in the law court since most of the members of the judiciary are said to be closely affiliated to that family. Well that angle of the story remains a conjecture that is yet to be proven conclusively with empirical evidence. Again political undertone is being read into this rumoured reconciliation in the sense that there is a groundswell of allegation that the Governor quickly made up with his estranged wife so he will appear like a good man before majority of the voters in Enugu state who are female and since he intends to test his popularity with the sitting Senator representing his zone and indeed the Deputy Senate President Senator Ike Ekweremadu. Whether this conjecture is far fetched will be determined soon when the woman appears in person to explain the emerging scenario especially to the organized civil society community who invested their time and resources to fight for her. Although as one of the leading civil society leaders that fought through the media on hearing this damaging allegation, I am happy if the once troubled marriage is repaired and if final reconciliation has been achieved.
Written By Emmanuel Onwubiko, head of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria.