Lagos — Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, has repudiated the claim by the Governor of Enugu State, Sullivan Chime, that he did not receive a brief from his wife to represent her to secure her release from the illegal detention imposed by her husband, the governor.
"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," he declared in a statement, Wednesday.
"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. Indeed, Mrs Chime's mother and her personal physician have also been in touch with me urging me to take all appropriate measures to secure her freedom from Governor Chime's illegal confinement."
Chime had said that Falana would have sought to talk with his wife personally or sought audience with him to hear from the other side, adding that his wife, Clara, was not in a position to brief him properly because of the state of her health.
"My wife has health challenges. We have been batting her health challenges since 2011. She was confined to the Government House by his neuropsychiatric doctor. The mistake we made was that we allowed her access to her telephone and laptop, contrary to her doctor's advice," Chime had told newsmen in Enugu, Tuesday night.
However, Mr. Falana pointed out that contrary to the governor's statement, he did 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.
"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," he said.
Falana further noted that at the press conference Governor Chime succeeded in confirming the allegation that he has held his wife in illegal custody but attempted to justify the illegality by alleging that his wife has "a medical challenge."
Unwarranted mental torture
The statement read: "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.
"But Mr Chime has conspired 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. 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 (and) 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!"