The aftermath of a court ruling sentencing Senator Orji Kalu to 12 years imprisonment; has left a lot of political analysts wondering what will become of his senatorial seat.
Orji Kalu was charged alongside Jones Udeogo; the state Commissioner for Finance during his tenure as the governor.
Kalu’s company, Slok Nig. Ltd. was also a defendant in the suit.
While Kalu and his company were convicted on all the 39 counts of the fraud charge; Udeogo was found guilty of 34 counts by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
However, a lawyer, Obiaraeri, N.O. has enumerated the intricacies regarding the indictment.
In a treatise made public on Friday, December 6, Obiaraeri revealed that Orji Kalu “is now a convict having come under; the sentence of a court of competent jurisdiction for sundry criminal offences.
“As a convict, he has lost the right of presumption of innocence guaranteed under section 36 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.”
The lawyer further explained the former governor “is entitled to appeal the sentence as of right to the Court of Appeal and even up to the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
“If the Court of Appeal upholds his appeal against the sentence and conviction in the Federal High Court; he regains his freedom and the conviction stands quashed in the eyes of the law.
“If the Court of Appeal dismisses his appeal; he continues to serve the sentence and is also entitled to proceed upstairs on a further appeal to the Supreme Court.
“As it stands, his seat as Senator remains unencumbered; until he exhausts his right of appeal probably at the Supreme Court.”
The statement further explains the circumstances under which Orji Kalu might lose his senatorial seat.
“If he dies while serving the sentence and before the expiration of the term of the 9th Senate; into which he was elected.
“If under the circumstances clearly prescribed in section 69 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended; he is recalled as a Senator by his constituents.
“If under section 68(f) of the 1999 Constitution as amended; his seat as Senator is declared vacant by the Senate President on the ground that he is unable to attend legislative sittings for a minimum period allowed by the Nigerian constitution.”
He further revealed that if his conviction is confirmed by the Supreme Court, the senator “will be disqualified from contesting for any future political office until after 10 years after serving.”