Saturday, November 9, 2013
NHRC Governing Council Denies Pronouncing On Clara Chime’s Health
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 Clara Chime, the wife of the governor of
Enugu State, Sullivan Chime.
In a statement issued today, he described such allegations as both
factually inaccurate and manifestly unfounded.
He explained that 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 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.
In a reaction to yesterday's statement issued by the NHRC
investigating team, Mrs. Chime suggested they had accepted a bribe
from Governor Chime to write a misleading report about her illegal
Following up today in a letter to her lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, she
demanded that the report be withdrawn.
"Apart from the fact that the information was largely false, it showed
lack of sensitivity in publishing sensitive medical detail. This has
the effect of tarnishing and damaging my reputation. It is as though
the Commission set out to ridicule me."
Below is the press statement issued by Professor Angwe:
TEXT OF PRESS STATEMENT ON THE INTERIM REPORT ON THE INVESTIGATION OF
ALLEGED INCARCERATION OF HER EXCELLENCY MRS CHIME
The National Human Rights Commission received a complaint from the
wife of the Governor of Enugu State Her Excellency Mrs. Clara Chime,
in which she alleged to have been incarcerated and subjected to
horrific and intolerable conditions that curtailed her fundamental
freedoms and threatened the enjoyment of her human rights.
The Commission wrote to the Governor and demanded for access to the
complainant in order to obtain more details and to carry out a
thorough investigation of the issues raised in the complaint.
Yesterday, I led a team of investigators to the Government House Enugu
and we were granted unhindered access to both Mrs. Chime and her
apartment in the Government House.
The investigating team held a five hour meeting with Governor Chime,
Mrs. Clara Chime, Dr. Jide Chime (the Governor's sibling) Dr. Aham
Agumoh (who has been treating Mrs. Chime) and Tony Igwe, the
complainant's elder brother during which the complainant had an
opportunity to state her case and also respond to the issues raised by
Dr. Uzegu A – a London based consultant psychiatrist and forensic
examiner who is the doctor the complainant 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.
We have confirmed that for the last two weeks Mrs. Chime had been
confined to her apartment on medical advice for purposes of medical
maintenance and security. But she confirmed having possession and
control of keys to her apartment, which the team also inspected. We
further confirmed that access to her son is not denied after his
school and lesson hours.
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. 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.
We want to thank His Excellency Governor Chime, and Her Excellency,
Mrs. Clara Chime his wife and all the persons that we interacted with
during our visit for their cooperation with the Commissions team of
We also want to assure all the parties and Nigerians that the
Commission will continue with the investigation of this matter and
take appropriate decision that will be in the interest of all the
parties and the Commission will not hesitate to invoke its further
mandate to mediate between the parties with a view to reconciling
Finally we wish to reassure all Nigerians that this Commission is
determined to be the instrument that will represent their dreams and
aspirations. We wish to make it very clear that in the realm of human
rights protection, there is no immunity against impunity.
Prof. Bem Angwe
8th November, 2013