Clara Chime, wife of Enugu State Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State, has expressed disappointment about the report of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on its investigation of her complaint, and asked for it to be withdrawn.
“Apart from the fact that the information was largely false, it showed lack of sensitivity in publishing sensitive medical detail,” she said yesterday in a letter to her lawyer, Femi Falana. “This has the effect of tarnishing and damaging my reputation. It is as though the Commission set out to ridicule me.”
The commission, had on Friday, led by its executive secretary, Bem Angwe, travelled to the Enugu State Government House to investigate the alleged forcible detention of Mrs. Chime.
Following the visit, the NHRC published an interim report on its website in which it described the issue as a disagreement between the governor and his wife “over the procedure for the treatment of her health challenges, which border on occasional hallucinations and depression.”
In the letter to Mr. Falana, she said, “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.”
Noting suggestions that that the Commission appears biased already because of the profile of the person whose reputation is at stake, she said, “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.”
In her first response yesterday, Mrs. Chime accused members of the commission of accepting a bribe from Governor Chime to write the misleading report about her illegal detention in Government House, Enugu.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Dr. Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, has denied that the Commission has been compromised in its investigation of the complaint of illegal detention made by Mrs Chime.
In a statement issued yesterday, Odinkalu described such allegations as both factually inaccurate and manifestly unfounded.
According to him, upon returning from Enugu, the commission’s high level investigation team led by Professor Bem Angwe, its Executive Secretary, issued a public statement on the visit reflecting the public interest in this case.
“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,” Dr. Odinkalu said.
He added that the NHRC 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.
He also clarified that the team sent to Enugu did not include any medical personnel, had neither a mandate nor the expertise to pronounce on such matters, and clearly did not do so in the statement issued yesterday.
“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,” he said.