The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, has denied claims that it compromised on its report about the alleged illegal detention of Clara Chime, the First Lady of Enugu State.
In a statement by Chidi Odinkalu, Chairman, Governing Council of NHRC, on Saturday, the commission said that the allegations against the commission are “both factually inaccurate and manifestly unfounded.”
“Having carefully reviewed the work so far undertaken by the staff of the Commission, I find no basis 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 any other party in this case,” Prof. 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,” he added.
Media reports had been awash, after the NHRC visited the Enugu State Government House last Thursday, that the Commission had accepted a bribe from Gov. Sullivan Chime to doctor the report of their findings.
But the Commission debunked such claims, stating that cases and complaints before it are processed in accordance with the National Human Rights Commission Act and with the Standing Orders and Rules of Procedure of the Commission.
After Clara Chime, the Enugu State First Lady, petitioned the Commission over her purported illegal detention in the Government House by her husband; the NHRC despatched an investigative team to the state to ascertain the veracity of the claims.
In its interim report, issued on Friday, after their visit, the NHRC stated that although Mrs. Chime had been confined to her apartment for two weeks, on medical advice; the First Lady had had unrestricted freedom in the Government House and unhindered access to her son.
“She (Mrs. Chime) confirmed having possession and control of keys to her apartment, which the team also inspected,” the NHRC said in a statement signed by Bem Angwe, the Executive Secretary.
During their visit on Thursday, the NHRC investigating team held a five hour meeting with Gov. Chime; Clara, his wife; Jide Chime, his sibling; Aham Agumoh, the medical doctor who has been treating Mrs. Chime; and Tony Igwe, Mrs. Chime’s elder brother.
The complainant (Mrs. Chime) had the opportunity to state her case as well as respond to the issues raised by her husband, the NHRC said in their report.
Dr. Uzegu A. – a London based consultant psychiatrist and forensic examiner, the doctor Mrs. Chime prefers, also joined the meeting through teleconference.
“The team further held private sessions with Her Excellency Mrs. Clara Chime in her apartment, her husband, His Excellency Sullivan Chime, Mrs. Patience Igwe (Complainant’s mother), and Edwin Igwe her brother. All the parties spoke freely and expressed their positions clearly,” Mr. Angwe said in the statement.
“Both parties have agreed that Mrs. Clara has medical challenges but have disagreement over how to handle her medical condition.
“The complainant told the Commission that she has lost confidence in the Physician presently handling her condition and no longer wants him to treat her,” Mr. Angwe stated.
“She further requested to have medical opinion of other medical doctors acceptable to her.
“Both parties have agreed that the Commission assemble a team of independent medical experts to review her medical condition and advise on further steps to be taken in respect of her treatment,” he added.
In dispelling the claims of a foul play by the Commission, Prof. Odinkalu noted that the NHRC’s team to Enugu did not include a 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,” Prof. Odinkalu added.
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