Ailing Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State engaged journalists in a hide-and-seek game as he went into seclusion upon arrival in Abuja yesterday. Mr. Chime, who had been out of circulation for 140 days, reportedly arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja around 5.00 a.m. yesterday. SaharaReporters broke the news that the governor was receiving medical treatment in the UK.
On hearing news of his arrival, a group of reporters and photojournalist besieged the Enugu State Government Lodge in Abuja hoping to catch a glimpse of the governor. However, staff of the lodge turned back all reporters. No official of the state appeared ready to talk to the press on the governor’s whereabouts. After making a flurry of phone calls to sources, some journalists received information that the governor was holed up in Protea Hotel. However, reporters who tracked Mr. Chime to the hotel to check on the veracity of their tip found no sign of the governor there. The hotel staff maintained sealed lips, in no mood to divulge whether the reclusive governor was their guest.
As frustrated reporters were about to leave the hotel, they spotted the convoy of Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State entering the premises of the hotel. One reporter told SaharaReporters, “Once we saw Governor Obi there, we felt that he had come to greet Governor Sullivan Chime.” Even so, the reporter added that their efforts to find out from Mr. Obi’s security detail if their hunch was correct proved futile.
As at the time of this report, there was no official statement to confirm Mr. Chime’s whereabouts in Abuja. Even so, some photojournalists decided to stand by Protea Hotel in order to get the ailing governor’s photograph in case he left the hotel.
A source at the Presidency told SaharaReporters that he met with members of Enugu state's house of assembly around 9:00 PM , also the deputy senate president, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and some members of the Nigerian national assembly were sighted going into the Penthouse of Protea hotel in Asokoro area. The source added that Mr. Chime was expected to leave Abuja today for Enugu, the capital of his state on chartered private jet. Some officials of Enugu State continue to maintain the charade that Mr. Chime had been on vacation abroad, insisting that his prolonged disappearance from public view was not health-related.
But several reliable sources told SaharaReporters that Mr. Chime was in the UK to receive treatment for serious medical problems that include cancer. Governor Chime is well known in Enugu for excessive drinking and womanizing, including the scandal of impregnating his sister-in-law. Loved by many in his state for his efforts to beautify the capital city, he has also been criticized for using state funds to offer gifts of cars to his numerous girlfriends.