The spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, has reacted to a protest seeking to declare the seat of the Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu, vacant.
Recall that a court sentenced Mr Kalu to 12 years in prison for N7.65 billion fraud in December 2019.
Mr Kalu was tried alongside his company, Slok Nigeria Limited, and Udeh Udeogu, who was Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House during Mr Kalu’s tenure as governor.
In the amended 39 counts charge, the duo were accused by the EFCC of conspiring and diverting over N7 billion from the coffers of the state.
Following the nullification of his conviction by the Supreme Court, the former governor filed an application at the federal court seeking an order for his release from the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS), Kuje, Abuja.
However, Messrs Kalu and Udeogu appealed the convictions by the duo at the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court up to the Supreme Court. On May 8, the Supreme Court ordered a retrial of the case.
Although the Federal High Court on Tuesday ordered the immediate release of Mr Kalu, he is still at the custody of the NCS.
Nevertheless, on Wednesday, some Concerned Citizens of Abia North stormed the National Assembly complex on Wednesday, demanding that the seat of the embattled senator be declared vacant.
However, in his reaction, the spokesperson of the House of Representatives condemned the actions of the group. In a statement obtained by POLITICS NIGERIA, he described them as impostors who have prided themselves as Concerned Citizens of Abia North.
“As the legislator representing Senator Kalu in the House of Representatives, as a member of the House representing Bende in Abia North, and as an eye witness to the phoney protest by the so-called Concerned Citizens of Abia North at the National Assembly complex today, I confirm that none of the demonstrators were recognizable to me as persons of Abia North extraction.
“Furthermore, information reaching me from all known associations of Abia North people in Abuja indicate that the soi-disant protesters are unknown elements.
“The foregoing, including the COVID-19 protocols restricting interstate travel from Abia to Abuja FCT, strongly suggest that these picketers are paid protesters hired by an aggrieved opposition desperate for one final ploy to deprive Abia North of the competent representation of Senator Kalu. They, therefore, do not represent the voice of the people of Abia North.
“It must be clearly stated that during his brief absence, Abia North was not deprived of adequate representation as can be seen by the sheer amount and quality of capital projects in the 2020 budget secured by Senator Kalu for the benefit of the Senatorial district. Also, all calls by the hired protesters for Senator Kalu’s seat to be vacated are unfounded because, by any form of computation, the number of sittings missed by
Senator Kalu during his brief incarceration does not warrant such vacation,” the statement read in parts.
Mr Kalu expressed certainty that in the next sitting of the Senate, Senator Kalu will be present.
“I wish to use this opportunity to thank the Senate for showing unwavering support for one of their own during this trying time; a camaraderie and solidarity that demonstrated exemplary faith in our judicial system, eventually allowing justice to run its full course,” he said.