ICYMI: Why Senate did not declare Orji Kalu’s seat vacant ― Lawan
• Says he was yet to exhaust his appeal process until his release
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has explained why the Senate did not yield to pressure calling on her to declare Senator Orji Uzor Kalu’s seat and position vacant during the period of his incarceration.
Lawan made the revelation when he played host to leaders of thought from Abia State, adding that preserving Kalu’s seat and his position was not extra-ordinary but the right and just thing to do.
The delegation of the leaders of thought were at the National Assembly in Abuja to appreciate the Senate and its leadership for showing their concerns for Kalu during his incarceration.
Kalu was the Senate Chief Whip when a court in Lagos sentenced him to 12 years imprisonment in December 2019 for fraud committed while he was Abia State governor between 1999 and 2007.
Kalu spent six months in the Correctional Facility before he eventually regained his freedom and returned to the Senate following the Supreme Court’s judgement which nullified his conviction on grounds of lack of jurisdiction by the trial judge.
Lawan told his guests that “there was no way anybody could convince us in the Senate that somebody should take the Abia North seat because it wasn’t vacant.
“He (Kalu) was on several appeals and until he exhausted all the opportunities available to him, that seat remained his seat.
“Similarly the position of the Chief Whip, we didn’t even appoint an acting Chief Whip. The Deputy Chief Whip continued to play that role until he was released.
“We came under pressure, of course. But we thought the right thing to do was to keep that seat, that position until he was able to get his judgement.
“It would have been premature, unjust and unfair to declare his seat vacant or his position to be given away because he was in that situation.
“So we didn’t do anything extra-ordinary really. We did what was right, what was just, what was necessary.”
Tribune Online reports that the composition of the group was across party lines, for this the President of the Senate President commended the leaders for the unity and understanding among them and their followers.
“Once the leaders are united, it makes it much easier for the followership to remain united and supportive so that reaching the promised land can be quite easy,” Lawan said.
The leader of the delegation, Senator Chris Adighije said the visit was to appreciate the Senate and its leadership for their concerns for the former governor.
“We want to thank the Senate. It is something that the entire Abia State and indeed the South East appreciate very much,” Ndighije said.