Group Wants Abia North Seat Declared Vacant over Kalu’s Long Absence

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Ahmed Lawan

Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia

The President of Senate, Dr. Ahmed Lawan, has been urged to declare the Abia North senatorial seat vacant following the long absence of the Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu, who is currently serving a 12-year jail term for fraud.

Youths under the aegis of Abia North Youths Vanguard (ANYN) made the call in a statement issued in Umuahia yesterday, saying that the Senate Chief Whip has been away for more than 1/3 legislative days since the inauguration of the ninth Senate.

Kalu began his long absence from the Senate on December 5, 2019, after he was convicted and jailed by a federal high court in Lagos on fraud charges to the tune of N7.2 billion committed when he was the governor of Abia State.

In the statement signed by the President and Secretary-General, Sunday Kalu and Uchechuku Orji respectively, the ANYV insisted that Kalu had already over shot the constitutional requirement of legislative absenteeism for his seat to be declared vacant.

The group pointed out that by his long absence, Kalu has breached Section 68 (f) of the 1999 Constitution which stipulates that the seat of a lawmaker be declared vacant if he or she is absent from sitting for more than one third of the legislative days in a year.

By its calculation, the youth group said Kalu has been absence from the Senate for more than 90 days which is over a third of legislative days in a year.

It lamented that the people of Abia North senatorial district were being denied representation in the Senate because of Kalu’s absence hence the urgent need to end the injustice.

Kalu is currently at the Supreme Court seeking to be freed from jail after he discovered to his disappointment that he could not benefit from the apex court ruling that freed Jones Udeogu, who was convicted with him.

But the Abia North youths group argued that it would be unfair for the entire senatorial district to be held to ransom because of Kalu, saying this has “brought more retrogression than progress to the zone.”

It added: “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 backwards as he has spent more time in jail than in the red chamber.”

It explained that its call for Kalu’s seat to be declared vacant was devoid of any political undertone, adding that the interest of the entire Abia North supersedes any political interest.