President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Tuesday, explained why the Senate refused to yield to pressure to declare Senator Orji Uzor Kalu’s s seat vacant during the period of his incarceration.
Lawan, according to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ola Awoniyi, titled: ‘Why we declined to declare Orji Kalu’s seat in Senate vacant,’ gave the explanation when leaders of thought from Abia State paid him a courtesy visit.
He said what the Senate did by preserving Kalu’s seat and his position was not extraordinary, but the right and just thing to do.
The delegation was at the National Assembly to appreciate the Senate and its leadership for showing concern for Kalu during his incarceration.
Kalu, the Senate Chief Whip, was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment in December 2019 for fraud while he was the Abia State governor between 1999 and 2007.
He spent six months in a correctional facility before he regained his freedom and returned to the Senate following the Supreme Court’s judgement that nullified his conviction on the grounds that the trial judge ought not to have delivered the judgement having been elevated from the High Court to the Court of Appeal.
“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, 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 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 extraordinary really. We did what was right, what was just and what was necessary,” Lawan said.
Looking at the bi-partisan composition of the delegation, the Senate President commended the leaders for the unity and understanding among them and their followers.
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 Abia State governor.
“We want to thank the Senate. It’s something that the entire Abia State and indeed the South-East appreciate very much,” Adighije said.