*Hails court judgment on alleged N7.6b fraud
By Joseph Erunke
THE Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP, has called on the former governor of Abia State and senator representing Abia North, Orji Uzor Kalu, to resign his position as the Chief Whip of the Senate because of his conviction, Thursday by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
CUPP said the conviction of Senator Kalu over alleged N7.65 billion has made him ineligible to continue to function as in that capacity.
The coalition in a statement, Thursday, by its spokesman, Ikenga Ugochinyere, insisted that while he pursues his conviction in a higher court, it was proper for him to abdicate his office in the upper legislative chamber as Chief Whip.
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The statement tagged: “Orji Kalu’s conviction and continued to stay in office as Senate’s principal officer/Chief Whip”, said the case would be a” Test case for the All Progressives Congress, APC’s anti-corruption fight.”
The statement by CUPP read thus:” President Muhanmadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress government wanted Senator Bukola Saraki and Justice Walter Onnogen to resign from their positions of Senate President and Chief Justice of Nigeria respectively even when there was no conviction.
“The government based its demand than on the ground that there were allegations levelled against these two former top government officials and charges instituted against them in different courts.
“Now that the Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu, who is among the principal officers imposed on the Nigerian Senate by the Buhari-led APC government has been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction based on corruption charges, we join Nigerians in watching to see what will happen to Kalu.
“Will Kalu, a convict based on the court’s verdict, continue to function as the Senate’s Chief Whip under a government who claims to be fighting corruption?
“Can the Buhari’s APC and the senators have the balls to ask him to resign as a principal officer while pursuing his appeal as an ordinary senator?
“Let us see if the Buhari’s corruption fight is just a weapon for hunting perceived opponents or a serious fight to restore honour and credibility to governance.
“We are fully aware that the man has a right to appeal his conviction.
“Also, we are not asking that they ask him to resign as a senator as he has a right to stay until his appeal is concluded.
“What we are asking is if the Buhari’s APC can pressure him to step down as a principal officer of the Senate and continue pursuing his appeal to clear himself.
“As Orji Kalu goes to prison today, will he take the office with him to prison under a government that claims to be morally upright or will be getting injunction pending appeal etc?”
Recall that the Federal High Court in Lagos earlier, Thursday, sentenced the former governor of Abia State Senator Orji Uzor Kalu to 12 years imprisonment after being found guilty on all the 39-count charges brought against him.
He was convicted of N7.65billion fraud perpetuated when he was Abia State governor between 1999 and 2007.
Kalu was convicted alongside his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and his former Abia State director of finance, Ude Udeogu.
The court also ordered forfeiture of all assets of his company to the federal government.
Justice Mohammed Idris, who delivered the sentence, had earlier declared him guilty of the charge in the case that had been on for 12 years.