Expiration of constitutional 1/3 days of absence : Abia North youths want Kalu’s seat declared vacant
By Steve Oko
Abia North Youths Vanguard, ANYV, has called on the Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan, to immediately declare vacant, the seat of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, following the expiration of the constitutional one third legislative days of absence from sitting.
The group in a press statement argued that since the embattled senator who has been in prison custody since December 5, 2019 following his conviction by a Lagos Federal High Court on a N7. 2 billion fraud charge has been absent from the senate, his seat ought to have been declared vacant.
According to the statement signed by Comrade Sunday Kalu , and Uchechukwu Orji , President and Secretary of the youth group respectively , Kalu has breached Section 68 (f) of the 1999 Constitution which recommends that the seat of a lawmaker be declared vacant if he or she is absent from sitting for more than one third of legislative days in a year.
The group argued that it amounts to great injustice to Abia North senatorial district for Kalu to be absent from sitting for over 90 legislative days and still retain his seat.
ANYV said the need to declare Kalu’s seat vacant had become more imperative following the confusion surrounding his release from prison custody after the recent Supreme Court judgment ordering his retrial by the High Court.
The group contended that it would be unfair for the entire senatorial district to be held to ransom because of Kalu who it said had “brought more retrogresion than progress to the zone.”
“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 he did at the red chamber “, it regretted.
It maintained that the call to declare Kalu’s seat vacant had nothing to do with alliance with any political party but to enable the zone produce his replacement.
“Abia North has suffered incalculable loss as we have no representative at the highest legislative chamber in the country for close to six months, and our patience can’t be stretched beyond its elasticity any more “, the statement said.
Continuing it said :”It’s not about any political party, it’s all about Abia North. It’s annoying to note that a zone which has produced powerful voices like Senator Uche Chukwumerije, Gen.Ike Nwachukwu, and Senator Mao Ohuabunwa will suddenly be without a voice at the senate for almost half a year.”
The group which lamented the exclusion of the zone in the execution of projects already captured in the 2019 budget due to absence of a representative, accused the senate leadership of playing politics with the destiny of “over a million people.”
It wondered “if Kalu’s seat would not have since been declared vacant, were he not to belong to the ruling party.”
ANYV further claimed that the delay by the senate leadership to declare Kalu’s seat vacant to pace the way for a bye election to produce his replacement was part of the Federal Government’s deliberate policy to reduce the number of South East senators at the red chamber.
The group, therefore, urged the Senate President to rise beyond party politics and “do the needful in the interest of over one million marginalised and politically excluded people of Abia North”.
It warned that the refusal of the senate leadership to do the needful could lead to indefinite mass protest in the zone in the days ahead despite the Covid -19 pandemic as the youths have run out of patience”.