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We did what was right and just by not declaring Kalu’s seat vacant – Lawan

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Against all the pressure coming from various groups to declare Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu’s seat in the Senate vacant, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has said that not declaring the seat vacant was the right thing to do. Lawan made the comment on Tuesday when he received some leaders of thought from Abia.
Kalu was the Senate Chief Whip when a Lagos court sentenced him to 12 years imprisonment in December 2019 but was released after a Supreme Court judgment.
Lawan stated that no one could convince the lawmakers that somebody should take the Abia North seat noting that he was on several appeals until he exhausted all the opportunities available to him.

“The house did not even appoint an acting Chief Whip. The Deputy Chief Whip continued to play that role until Kalu was released”.
He recalled that the Senate was under pressure, but thought the right thing to do was to keep the seat and portfolio until Kalu was able to get judgment.

“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. We did not do anything extra-ordinary. We did what was right, what was just, what was necessary,” Lawan added.
It could be recalled that Abia North Youths Vanguard (ANYV), once called on the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan, to immediately declare vacant, the seat of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, following the expiration of the constitutional one third legislative days of absence from sitting.

The group in a statement, argued that since the embattled senator, who has been in prison custody since December 5, 2019 following his conviction by a Lagos Federal High Court on a N7. 2 billion fraud charge has been absent from the Senate, his seat ought to have been declared vacant.

According to the statement signed by Comrade Sunday Kalu, and Uchechukwu Orji, President and Secretary of the youth group respectively, Kalu has breached Section 68 (f) of the 1999 Constitution which recommends that the seat of a lawmaker be declared vacant if he or she is absent from sitting for more than one-third of legislative days in a year. The group argued that it amounts to great injustice to Abia North senatorial district for Kalu to be absent from sitting for over 90 legislative days and still retain his seat.

The group contended that it would be unfair for the entire senatorial district to be held to ransom because of Kalu who it said had “brought more retrogression than progress to the zone.”
“While he was governor, he converted the state into his private estate, now that he went to the senate he has sent Abia North 15 years backward as he has spent more time in jail than he did at the red chamber,” it regretted.

“It’s not about any political party; it’s all about Abia North. It’s annoying to note that a zone which has produced powerful voices like Senator Uche Chukwumerije, Gen.Ike Nwachukwu, and Senator Mao Ohuabunwa will suddenly be without a voice at the senate for almost half a year.”