Following the conviction of Senator Orji Kalu by a Federal High Court in Lagos, the Senate has said that the seat of the Chief Whip can’t be declared vacant.
The former governor of Abia State was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment on Thursday, December 5, 2019, over a N7.1bn fraud charges against him by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) since 2007.
Twelve years after the charges, Justice Mohammed Idris delivered the judgement on Thursday by convicting the ex-governor.
However, the Spokesperson for the red chamber, Senator Godiya Akwashiki while reacting to the calls on the leadership of the senate to declare Kalu’s seat vacant said, it’s impossible for the senate to grant the request.
According to Punch, Akwashiki said the constitution does not permit or mandate the Senate President to unilaterally to declare the seat of any senator facing prosecution vacant.
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.”
On whether the embattled senator will continue to receive salaries while in prison, Akwashiki said, National Assembly bureaucracy determines the payment of senators based on the template from the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission, Punch reports.