Yesterday, Governor of Enugu state Sullivan Chime rejected claims of subjecting his spouse, Mrs. Clara Chime, to "house arrest," and declared he is intent to protect her from being ridiculed. His wife, also present at the interview session, denied sending any petition to the National Human Rights Commission accusing Chime of violating her freedom.
Apart from the Governor and his wife, also present were Mrs. Chime's elder brother Mr. Tony Igwe, her neuro-psychiatric doctor, Dr. Aham Agumuo, as well as Governor's siblings, Mrs. May Oji and Dr. Jide Chime.
Mrs. Chime denied applying to the NHRC and hiring services of Mr. Femi Falana (or any other lawyer) to help her seek her freedom from an alleged house arrest at the Governor's lodge, Enugu.
It will be recalled that Falana, in his letter to media houses and the Inspector-General of Police stated that he was hired by the Governor's wife.
Chime said his wife has some health problems, but it would be unkind for him to talk about this issue to the media reprsentatives.
He then said he has done everything to protect his wife's integrity, and was not going to expose her to ridicule because some people try to exploit current situation to involve him in a "war of words".
"We've been battling this [health challenges] prior to my inauguration in 2011," the Governor continued. "It was so bad at a time that she had to be taken out of here [Governor’s Lodge] for treatment. When she stabilized, I pleaded with her doctors if she could be brought back here to be receiving her treatment at home and they graciously accepted.
"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.
"I cannot say or do anything to undermine her dignity. She is, first and foremost, my wife," the Governor continued emotionally. "The big blunder I committed was allowing her access to the telephone and her laptop, against the advice of her doctor. I'm paying dearly for that today, going by what is happening now.
"Her brother is here, her doctor is here with us, too. You people [journalists] can confirm anything you want from them, either here and at your convenience. Would I have been a better husband if I asked her to leave the Lodge because of her medical challenge? Would it not have been more convenient for me if I allowed her to stay and be treated in the hospital?
"But, like I said earlier, I wanted the best for her, and that's why I pleaded with the doctors to have her treated at home. That's also why I allowed her access to her telephone and laptop which unfortunately led to the stage where I'm now being falsely accused of imprisoning or detaining my own wife."
Mrs. Chime, despite encouragement from her husband, and brother, could not speak, asking her husband and doctor to do so on her behalf.
The Governor replied: "Yes, I'm your husband and should ordinarily do so, but you know I'm the one being accused of detaining you. This way, I've lost that privilege to speak for you, at least on this case.
"The story out there also is that your doctor is probably scared of me and gives you all kinds of drugs, sometimes against your wish."
To this, Mrs. Chime replied, "My doctor and I don't have any problem."
She confirmed that she has the key to her room and controls her entry and exit, contrary to the claim in the petition that she had been locked up for asking to be allowed to leave.
Governor Chime then wondered why he would want to lock up his wife, and maintained that there are a lot of other ways to resolve personal issues.
"It was always more convenient for me to have taken the easier route but that would have been very callous and ungodly. When I had my own health challenge, I was receiving treatment in London and thinking about her, making sure she received the right treatment. I'm forever grateful to her doctors who have done a great job. Both families are billed to meet very soon and after that, I'll take a decision which will be in the interest of both parties."
Speaking about Falana, who sent the petition to the IGP, Chime had this to say: "He's my professional colleague, but sometimes you leave people to their conscience. I won't join words with him.
"Has he met this client of his as he claimed to assess her state of mind and determine if she can give him the right brief to guide his case? Did he ask for access to her or to me and was denied? I leave it at that.
"That's the penalty you face as a public officer. When I was receiving treatment in London, some of the newspapers reported that I had died in India. I've never been to India and had never applied for an Indian visa. Today, the story is that I've imprisoned my own wife in my residence. I know their motives but I wish those behind such wicked tales well ," the Governor concluded.