Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has debunked claims by Sullivan Chime, the Enugu State governor, that his wife never sought his legal assistance to secure her freedom from an alleged house arrest at the Governor’s Lodge, Enugu.
While insisting that Clara Chime “fully briefed” him to help in her unlawful detention by her husband, Mr. Falana stated that he does not need the instructions of citizens who are illegally detained to demand for their release.
“Without any instructions I am duty bound to file cases in court to secure the enforcement of the fundamental rights of detainees to personal liberty,” Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said in a statement on Wednesday.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the doctrine of locus standi in the area of human rights has been abolished by the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009 which came into force on December 1, 2009.
“With respect to Mrs Clara Chime, I wish to say, without any fear of contradiction, that I have her instructions in writing to challenge her illegal detention at the Government House, Enugu.
“Through the assistance of some of the security personnel in the Government House she has since spoken to me on phone to confirm her instructions,” he added.
‘A house arrest’
Reports that Governor Chime had subjected his wife to a house arrest in the Government House for months had elicited a widespread condemnation, with the National Human Rights Commission writing the governor seeking access to his wife after a petition purportedly written by her.
Also, the petition, also written to Mr. Falana, prompted the senior advocate to urge the Inspector-General of Police to ensure the immediate release of the governor’s wife from unlawful detention by her husband.
But, addressing journalists on Tuesday, in Enugu, Gov. Chime denied subjecting his wife to house arrest.
The governor, however, admitted that she had been confined indoors due to her health challenges, adding that his only mistake had been allowing her access to a telephone and laptop.
“We’ve been battling this (his wife’s health problems) prior to my inauguration in 2011. It was so bad at a time that she had to be taken out of here (Governor’s Lodge) for treatment,” Gov. Chime said at the press conference which also had Mrs. Chime, her neuro-psychiatric doctor, and her siblings in attendance.
“When she stabilized, I pleaded with her doctors for her to be brought back here to be receiving her treatment at home and they graciously accepted,” Gov. Chime continued.
“There was a time she was confined indoors and that was strictly on her doctors’ advice. She’s here and she can confirm or deny it. Also, the doctors then advised against allowing her access to telephones and laptop,” he added.
At first, Mrs. Chime declined to talk to the journalists, but after a lot of persuasion from her husband and elder brother, Tony Igwe; she denied sending a petition to the National Human Rights Commission alleging unlawful detention by the governor.
Mrs. Chime also denied hiring the services of Mr. Falana.
However, in his response, Mr. Falana stated that Mrs. Chime’s mother as well as her personal physician had been in touch with him urging him to take appropriate measures to secure her freedom from Governor Chime’s illegal confinement.
The lawyer also released a message from the governor’s wife, addressed to Mr. Owei, seeking for his (Mr. Falana’s) assistance.
”I clara chime (mrs) hereby instruct you to reach out to Femi Falana (SAN) of Falana N Falana Chambers, Ikeja, Lagos on my behalf. For Him to take all necessary legal steps to secure my freedom from Government House, Enugu State where am presently detained. Your speedy action will be appreciated,” the message read.
Mr. Falana accused the Enugu governor of conspiring with his private physicians to sentence his wife to “unwarranted mental torture and psychological trauma” in a room in the Government House for the past four months.
“From his nocturnal press conference Governor Chime confirmed the allegation that he has held his wife in illegal custody,” said Mr. Falana.
“He attempted to justify the illegality by alleging that his wife has “a medical challenge”. When Governor Chime was recently medically challenged he was not subjected to solitary confinement in the Government House but flown abroad for adequate medical treatment.
“If Mr Chime’s claim is correct that the wife is non compos mentis, when was the Enugu Government House converted to a psychiatric hospital?
“Having confirmed the allegation that he has wilfully infringed the fundamental rights of his wife to personal liberty, dignity of the person and freedom of movement Governor Chime should release his wife from illegal custody be warned not to divert attention from the brutal abuse of the rights of his wife.
“If he and his doctors are convinced that she is medically challenged they should send her to a hospital for quick recovery,” Mr. Falana added.
The lawyer expressed his gratitude to the Director-General of the State Security Service for directing the security service personnel attached to the Government House to desist from teaming up with the Governor to hold his wife hostage.
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