The Nigeria Senate has said it would not declare the seat of its Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, vacant despite his conviction by a Federal High Court.
Naija News reports that the Federal High Court in Lagos. on Thursday, found the former governor of Abia state guilty of all the 39-count charges filed against him.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had charged the senator with N7.65billion fraud while in office as the Abia State governor between 1999 and 2007.
Kalu was convicted alongside his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and his former director of finance, Ude Udeogu.
The court also ordered forfeiture of all assets of his company to the federal government.
Reacting to calls to declare Kalu’s seat vacant, the Spokesperson for the red chamber, Senator Godiya Akwashiki, dismissed such calls.
According to Akwashiki, Orji Uzor Kalu’s seat can only be declared when the former governor had exhausted all his legal options available to him without success.
He said, “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.”