SENATE chief whip Senator Orji Uzor Kalu is to continue receiving his salary and other parliamentary entitlements for the rest of his tenure despite the fact that he has been sentenced to 12 year imprisonment for corruption.
Last Thursday, Senator Kalu was sentenced to 12 year in jail after being convicted of embezzling N7.5bn ($12m) while he was Abia State governor between 1999 and 2007. Justice Mohammed Idris of the federal high court Abuja convicted Senator Kalu on 39 counts of fraud and money laundering preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
In spite of the sentencing, Senator Orji, who represents Abia North Senatorial District will still be getting paid despite not performing any legislative function from prison. His tenure does not end until 2019, so unless he is formally recalled, he will continue to get paid until then.
Senate spokesperson Senator Godiya Akwashiki, said that despite the conviction, Senator Kalu remains a sitting senator and will be paid all of his entitlements in full. He said until the case gets to the Supreme Court and a final judgement is given, Senator Kalu remains a serving lawmaker.
Senator Akwashiki said: “He is still a senator. This is the first court and the matter is going to Supreme Court so, he still has the opportunity to appeal up to the Supreme Court level.
“Of course they will pay him because he is a sitting senator and if you file for appeal, you are still serving and so they will pay you. All his entitlements will be paid, so there is no cause for alarm.
“In fact, even if Court of Appeal says they have upheld the judgement of the lower court, he still has the right to go to Supreme Court. So once the Supreme Court says, yes, the judgement is okay, then that’s the final.”
He added that Senator Kalu’s seat will not be declared vacant as there is no provision for such an arrangement in the constitution that says the seat of any senator facing prosecution or convicted at a lower court should be declared vacant. Senator Akwashiki stressed: “Even the tenure of a former governor Joshua Dariye, who has been in prison for some time now, ran its course until the end of the eighth National Assembly and nobody declared his seat vacant.”