The strained relationship between Governor Sullivan Chime and his wife, Clara has provoked some pertinent questions as to how their love affairs started and ended
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Dec. 16, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
HOW did Clara, wife of Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State, leave the Lion Building otherwise known as government house, Enugu? Did she voluntarily pack out or was she bundled out of government house on the order of Chime? Ever since the news that Clara had left the Lion Building hit the airwaves, many tongues had wagged and questions asked. Did she actually walk away?
Realnews investigation has revealed that Clara was forcibly taken out of government house on November 10, by security operatives on Chime’s order. Clara’s personal belongings were packed for her by the governor and his security personnel before she was forcibly taken out to her mother’s residence at House 38, Coal City Estate, Enugu. Realnews also gathered that Clara struggled in vain to depart with her four-year-old son.
Realnews was told that on getting to her family home, Clara’s mother was not there because she had not been notified of her daughter’s home-coming. Her absence compelled Clara and the security operatives to sit inside the cars waiting for her mother to return. After waiting for close to two hours for the mother, the governor ordered that Clara be brought back to the government house. However, she was finally evicted on November 11.
Speaking to reporters at her mother’s residence, Clara narrated how her marriage to the governor had broken down and without any intimacy between them in the last four years. She said she continued to stay in government house hoping that the governor would change his ways after receiving treatment for cancer in the United Kingdom. She also narrated how several members of her family prevailed on her not to leave the governor because they were benefiting from him directly.
She insisted that she was not mentally ill as portrayed by the governor and his aides. She said the marriage had so irretrievably broken down that she frequently had nervous breakdowns, which led the governor to confine her to a section of the government house until she managed to smuggle out an email crying for help. She complained that after the birth of her only son four years ago, she had not been sharing their matrimonial bed with him. Emphasising the seriousness of the misunderstanding between them, she said that even President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience, had intervened at some point without success.
“We do not have a relationship anymore and the situation inevitably led to my nervous breakdown. I have been diagnosed with severe depression and at some point, it was quite suicidal to hang on. In effect, I was locked up in my bedroom without access to anybody”, her letter to the National Human Rights Commission read in part. She added that Callistus Onaga, Catholic Bishop of Enugu, and top priests had also tried to intervene without success.
Realnews learnt that the governor took the decision to drive away his wife because she had petitioned the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, over her confinement in the government house against her wish. Clara, who had admitted suffering from a nervous breakdown over what she alleged was as a result of her husband’s maltreatment of her, was, however, portrayed by the governor as someone who is mentally unstable requiring the administration of drugs by a doctor she does not trust and her confinement in her bedroom.
According to Clara, she would have walked away from the marriage during the period Chime was on a five month medical vacation abroad but chose to remain on compassionate grounds. She said her thinking then was that the sickness would change the governor’s ways towards her but instead, the relationship got worse months after his return from cancer treatment abroad. She said on many occasions she attempted to leave but her family members, for pecuniary reasons prevailed on her to stay on. She said even when it was apparent that Chime no longer wanted the marriage, her family would not let her go.
But reports from Chukwudi Achife, the chief press secretary to Governor Chime, said the first lady left the government house on her own. According to him, Clara left the government house to enable peace reign in her home. He noted that at a recent press conference organised by the governor, Clara denied the statement that she was under detention but instead requested that her husband should speak for her. In response to the allegations, Chime said the health challenges his wife was facing necessitated her confinement. He vowed to continue to protect the integrity of his wife, in spite of the negative campaigns against him. Chime said it had become imperative for him to clarify issues about his wife’s health challenges going by what he called a ‘campaign of calumny’ against his person.
“Well, my wife has some medical challenges and it would be very unkind for me to talk about her condition on the pages of newspapers. I have done everything to protect her integrity and I am not now going to expose her to ridicule because some people want to exploit her situation to drag me into a needless war of words. We’ve been battling this 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. When she stabilised, I pleaded with her doctors if she could be brought back here to be receiving her treatment at home and they graciously accepted the request. 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 her laptop,” he said.
Femi Falana, lawyer and human rights activist, had on November 1, petitioned the inspector-general of police, IGP, demanding the immediate release of Clara from unlawful custody in Enugu Governor’s Lodge. In the petition, copy of which was made available to the magazine, Falana claimed to be the solicitor to Clara. The petition read thus: “For some inexplicable reasons, our client has been kept incommunicado in solitary confinement in one of the rooms in the Government House, Enugu, Enugu State, for over four months on the directives of Governor Chime. Thus, our client’s fundamental rights to the dignity of her person, personal liberty, fair hearing, private and family life and freedom of movement guaranteed by the Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 have been violated without any legal justification.”
While claiming, among others, that his client’s dehumanising detention conditions has had a deleterious effect on her psychological state as well as on her mental and physical health, as she had been denied access to her doctors, Falana urged the IGP to ensure that his client was freed without any further delay failure of which he would take legal action. Apparently intimidated by the pressure from all fronts, Chime a few weeks ago opened the door of the government house for Clara to take her exist. But investigations have revealed that the exit was not voluntary after all. That, definitely, was not what the human rights community, friends and family wanted. Rather they expected that the governor would take her to where she would have the best medical treatment.
The woman in this drama is not Chime’s first wife. Clara got married to the Enugu first citizen in October 2008, after he had lived separately from his first wife for almost 15 years. The former wife is from the Ogakwu family in Udi, Chime’s hometown. The circumstances under which the governor got married to Clara were not very clear.
According to sources in Enugu, Clara, who was born and brought up in Katsina, met Chime through the late President Umaru Yar’Adua. Clara and her family were said to be very close to the family of the late president. One of the magazine’s sources said Chime met Clara through the Yar’Adua family and married her because he wanted to use that connection to be close to the nation’s first family. Yet another account said that Clara was a friend to Chime’s daughter from his first wife. According to the account, Chime who met Clara in one of her regular visits to the Government House to see her friend, fell in love with her and subsequently married her.