POLITICS: Kalu’s journey back to the senate, is the battle over?
“I want to welcome our one and only chief whip of the Senate, and indeed to the National Assembly. Chief whip, you are welcome, we are very grateful to the Almighty God for His blessings,” those were the words of the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmed Lawan at the opening of plenary on Tuesday, when the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzoh Kalu resumed sitting at the red chamber.
Kalu earlier arrived at the National Assembly Complex in high spirit exchanging pleasantries with legislators, aides and security operatives. His arrival elicited such spirit following his travail. On May 8, the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision by a panel of justices upturned the judgement of the Lagos Federal High Court that convicted Senator Kalu, Slok Nigeria Limited, a firm owned by Kalu, and UdeUdeogu.
The apex court held that the lower court lacked jurisdiction when it convicted the senator and other accused. The lower court had sentenced the former Abia State governor to 12 years imprisonment for laundering about N7.1 billion. But the Supreme Court insisted that since Justice Mohammed Idris who delivered the conviction as of when he delivered the judgement had been elevated to the Court of Appeal bench, the trial should have been handled by another judge.
Kalu’s travails began in 2007 when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arraigned him in court for money alleged laundering. He had been in and out of the court battling his trial. The battle with the EFCC was not the only front he was engaged. As a political figure, he struggled to remain relevant ever since he left the governorship seat for his predecessor, Theodore Orji.
After his fall out with the Peoples Democratic Party, he founded the Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA) under which he contested the presidential election in 2007. The loss of that election was the first of series of other contest to loose. In the 2011 general elections, he again contested under the PPA for the Abia North Senatorial District which he lost to the Peoples Democratic Party, his estranged party.
Again in 2015 he lost the Senatorial contest to the PDP. By then, he had taken the decision to pitch his tent with ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Finally in 2016 at the National Secretariat of the party in Abuja, Kalu told the then National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, who led some other members of the National Working Committee to welcome him that, “Our upright war is that the south-east will be delivered to the APC. God will help us to do this.”
By then he had already been rearraigned by the EFCC for the alleged embezzlement. Pundits concluded that his decision to join the APC was to get soft landing after stalling the trial for nine years. It would however not be, as he was sentenced last December.
Resuming to the plenary on Tuesday, Kalu told journalists, “I just want to thank God for everything that has happened. It is the will of God. I want to urge Nigerians to keep hope alive.”
One thing that is sure is that Senator Kalu’s much battle is far from being over as far as the EFCC is concerned as the anti-graft agency said it is ready for immediate re-trial of the Senator.
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