File photograph of Senate President, Ahmed Lawan (right) and Orji Kalu in a pre-COVID-19 handshake
Senator Ahmad Lawan, the President of Nigeria’s Senate has finally disclosed why the Senate under his leadership refused to declare Senator Orji Uzor Kalu’s s seat and position vacant during the period he was in prison at Kuje, Abuja.
Lawan who spoke with leaders of thought from Abia State said what the Senate did by preserving Kalu’s seat and his position was not extra-ordinary but the right and just thing to do. There was pressure from all quarters for the Senate to open the corridor for Kalu to be replaced while he languished in prison.
A statement signed by the Special Adviser (Media) to President of the Senate, Ola Awoniyi said Lawan spoke when a delegation of the leaders of thought from Kalu’s constituency visited the National Assembly in Abuja to appreciate the Senate and it’s leadership for showing their concerns for Kalu during his prison time.
Kalu, who is the Senate’s Chief Whip was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment in December 2019 for fraud committed while he was Abia State Governor between 1999 and 2007 where he spent six months in prison 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.
The Senate President was said to have told his visitors 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,” he said.
The Senate President also commended the leaders for the unity and understanding among them and their followers when he again said, “It has been a long time, I have not seen or heard the kind of unity, understanding and desire to move a state forward in a bi-partisan way.
“Our people need us to give them leadership. They need us to give them good governance. They want to have better life and particularly in Abia State, you have a lot of business-people. They would like to see their businesses grow and do well.
“Once the leaders are united, it makes it much easier for the followership to remain united and supportive so that reaching the promise land can be quite easy,” Lawan said.
On his own part, Senator Chris Adighije who led the delegation said the visit was to appreciate the Senate and its leadership for their concerns for the former Governor. He said, “We want to thank the Senate. It’s something that the entire Abia State and Indeed the South East appreciate very much.”