Senate President Ahmad Lawan on Tuesday explained why the Senate refused to declare Senator Orji Uzor Kalu’s seat vacant during the period of his incarceration.
Lawan, according to a statement by his spokesman, Ola Awoniyi, told Leaders of Thought from Abia State that 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 of the Leaders of Thought was at the National Assembly in Abuja to appreciate the Senate and its leadership for showing their concerns for Kalu during his incarceration.
Kalu, as Senate Chief Whip, was sentenced to 12-year imprisonment by a Federal High Court in Lagos for fraud he allegedly committed while he was the Governor of Abia 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: “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 prematured, 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.
Looking at the bi-partisan composition of the group, the Senate President commended the leaders for the unity and understanding among them and their followers.
“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.
The leader of the delegation, Senator Chris Adighije, said the visit was to appreciate the Senate and its leadership for their concern for the former Governor.
Credit: The Nation