President of the Nigeria Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Tuesday, said Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu’s seat in the Senate was never vacant, it was preserved because as it was the right and just thing to do.
Lawan was giving reasons why the Senate did not yield to pressure to declare the seat and position of Kalu vacant during the period of his incarceration.
Mr Ola Awoniyi, Special Adviser to the Senate President (Media), said in a statement that Lawan made this known when he received some leaders of thought from Abia.
He therefore, said what the Senate did by preserving Kalu’s seat and his position as Senate Chief Whip, was not extra-ordinary.
The former Abia governor was the Senate Chief Whip when a court in Lagos sentenced him to 12 years imprisonment in Dec. 2019, for fraud during his tenure as governor between 1999 and 2007.
Kalu, who spent six months in the correctional facility, regained his freedom and returned to the Senate following the Supreme Court judgment which nullified his conviction on grounds of lack of jurisdiction by the trial judge.
Lawan told the group that: “There was no way anybody could convince us in the Senate that somebody should take the Abia North Seat because it was not vacant.
“He was on several appeals, and until he exhausted all the opportunities available to him, that seat remained his seat.
“Similarly, we did not even appoint an acting Chief Whip. The Deputy Chief Whip continued to play that role until he (Kalu) 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 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.
“So we did not do anything extra-ordinary, really. We did what was right, what was just, what was necessary.”
The senate president also 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 and good governance. They want to have better life, and particularly in Abia, 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 follower-ship to remain united and supportive, so that reaching the promised land can be quite easy,” Lawan said.
The leader of the delegation, Sen. Chris Adighije said that the visit was to appreciate the Senate and its leadership for the support to Sen Kalu, Lawan’s media aide said in the statement..
“We want to thank the Senate. It is something that the entire Abia, and indeed the South East, appreciates very much,” Adighije said.