A serving senator thrown into prison for fraud might lose his seat following threats from his constituents.
Orji Uzor Kalu
The people of Abia North might opt for the invocation of the ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ to seek the removal and replacement of their senator, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu who is currently in prison custody, according to a report by DailyPost.
Kalu was last week sentenced to 12 years in prison following his conviction on N7.2 billion fraud and money laundering charge by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
The former Governor’s legal team had hinted it would appeal the judgment which has since sparked controversy over the fate of his constituents.
There have also been calls in some quarters for the Senate President to declare the seat of the Senate Chief Whip vacant to pave the way for a fresh poll to elect his replacement.
But in a swift reaction, the Senate on Friday ruled out the possibility of declaring Kalu’s seat vacant.
Senate Spokesperson, Senator Godiya Akwashiki, who made this position known said it was “non issue”, arguing that the former Governor is not the first lawmaker to be jailed.
He said such a request would only be considered after the embattled senator had explored all the legal options available to him without success.
Akwashiki argued that the constitution of Nigeria does not mandate the Senate President to unilaterally declare the seat of any senator facing prosecution or convicted by a lower court, vacant.
His words: “The Senate has no reason to declare his seat vacant. This is not the first time that such a thing would happen.
“There is no provision in the constitution that says the seat of any senator facing prosecution or convicted at a lower court should be declared vacant.He still has the opportunity to appeal the case.
“Even the tenure of a former governor Joshua Dariye, who has been in prison for some time now, ran its course until the end of the 8th National Assembly. Nobody declared his seat vacant.
“The Senate President cannot declare the seat of Kalu vacant. It is against the law.
“Tell those who are canvassing such things that there is nothing like that, it is a non-issue”.
But, former Special Adviser to Kalu on Political Affairs, Chief Amah Abraham, has now said the people could rely on the ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ to replace the senator.
He argued that while nobody would stop the former governor from exploring the legal process to seek the upturning of his judgment, he, however, would not do so at the expense of the entire senatorial district.
The former Council boss argued that Abia North would be without a voice at the red chamber “as long as the matter lingers in court and Kalu is in detention”.
“We will not object to the claims of the Senate spokesperson but Abia North eligible electorates will not hesitate to apply the doctrine of necessity to enable us have our voice on the floor of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, he said.
Continuing he said: “We are not ignorant of the enormous disadvantage inherent to be voiceless on that chamber. It is about the senatorial district and the welfare of its over 2 million population and not about a single individual”.
Abraham said the people might also commence the process of recalling the embattled senator to avoid being shortchanged in the scheme of things, particularly in projects for the zone in the budget.