The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has revealed why the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly refused to yield to pressure to declare Senator Orji Uzor Kalu’s seat and position vacant during the period of his incarceration.
He stated this on Tuesday when he received a delegation of the leaders of thought from Abia State at the National Assembly in Abuja.
Lawan explained that what the Senate did by preserving Kalu’s seat and his position was not extra-ordinary but the right and just thing to do.
“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,” the Senate President was quoted as saying in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Ola Awoniyi.
He added, “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.”
Senator Kalu was the Senate Chief Whip when a court in Lagos sentenced him to 12 years imprisonment in December 2019 for a fraud he was said to have committed while he was the Abia State Governor between 1999 and 2007.
He spent six months at the correctional facility before he eventually regained his freedom and returned to the Senate, following the Supreme Court judgement which nullified his conviction on grounds of lack of jurisdiction by the trial judge.
Addressing his guests, Lawan said there was no way anybody could convince the members of the Senate that someone else should take the Abia North Seat, stressing that it was not vacant.
He commended the leaders for unity and understanding among them and their followers in the state.
“Our people need us to give them leadership. They need us to give them good governance. They want to have a better life and particularly in Abia State, you have a lot of businesspeople.
“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,” the Senate President added.
In his remarks, the leader of the delegation, Senator Chris Adighije said the visit was to appreciate the Senate 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.”