NIGERIA – The ex-2nd Vice chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association(NBA), Monday Ubani, has reacted to the conviction of ex-Abia state Governor and the current Senator representing Abia North district in the Red chamber of national Assembly, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu.
OgeneAfrican had reported that a Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday found Kalu guilty of 39 counts of N7.2 billion fraud and money laundering.
Kalu was charged alongside Jones Udeogo, the state Commissioner for Finance during his tenure as the governor.
But, Ubani in a telephone interview on Friday morning, said that Kalu remains a serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria even while serving the jail term unless: “If recalled by his constituents, and his seat declared vacant by the Senate President and if he is unable to attend legislative sittings to a certain period allowed by the constitution.
“He died while serving the sentence before his term in the senate is exhausted (God forbid). He has a right of appeal up to the Supreme Court of Nigeria. He cannot bring any application for stay of execution as Administration of Criminal Justice Act has outlawed such measures, but he can bring application for his bail pending the hearing of his appeal.
“This application is not granted as of right as applicable to when he had not been convicted. For now, he has lost the right of presumption of innocence given to every accused person. The grounds upon which his bail application can be granted must be on exceptional grounds, part of which has to do with serious health challenge/s that has grievous consequences if he is allowed to remain in prison to pursue his appeal.
Due to his legal right of appeal which will take him as far as to the Supreme Court, he is not in the eyes of the law yet as an Ex-convict until the final pronouncement of the highest court in the land is made about him on these offences he is alleged to have committed”.
The lawyer continued, “If the Supreme Court finally pronounces him guilty as charged(unless the case does not get up to that level) he will be disqualified from contesting for any future political office until after 10 years after serving.
“He will answer Senator Orji Uzor Kalu for life, because his election to the office of a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was confirmed recently by the Court of Appeal on National Assembly and Gubernatorial Election Matters.
“If he is finally confirmed guilty by the Supreme Court, he can contest election in Nigeria for any position only after 10 solid years in abeyance”.