Some aggrieved citizens on Tuesday stormed the National Assembly to demand that Senator Orji Uzo Kalu’s seat be declared vacant.
The protesters, who came under the aegis of Concerned Citizens of Abia North called on the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to declare the seat vacant, without any further delay.
Kalu, a former governor of Abia State and current Senate Majority Whip, was sent to jail over involvement in corruption while serving as a governor between 1999 and 2007.
Though the Supreme Court recently nullified the judgment of the Federal High Court that sent Kalu to jail, on the ground that the court lacked the jurisdiction to do so, the senator, however, has remained in prison.
The protesters on Tuesday said the Senate had to declare Kalu’s seat vacant to enable the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conduct a fresh election for Abia North senatorial position.
Chukwudi Chukwu, who read the group’s protest letter said:
“We are indigenes of the five (5) Local Government Areas: Arochukwu, Bende, Isuikwuato, Ohafia and Umunneochi that make up the Abia North Senatorial District of Abia State.
“We formally notify Your Excellency of the absence of our Senator Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, from the senate. The conviction and incarceration of the senator representing Abia North, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu leading to his long absence from the National Assembly has effectively silenced our voices. Abia North constituents have no representation in the Nation’s highest deliberative body and cannot participate in matters that affect them.
“Citizens in Abia North Senatorial District have every cause to feel abandoned, angry, less optimistic about their future because they have no representation in the senate. Democracy thrives and is significantly enriched when citizens participate in the process, and can speak through their elected representative.
“Denying citizens the right to be represented inspires disaffection and provokes contempt for both the Legislative body and the democratic process. More fundamentally, it does grave violence to the democratic imperatives of representation.
“Your Excellency, we are law-abiding citizens and have confidence in both the democratic process and your ability to assuage our concerns and repair this anomaly. We are deeply and fervently committed to the democratic process and respectfully urge you to restore our voice in the legislative process muted by the incarceration of our senator.
“We, therefore, pray you to use your good offices and declare the Abia North Senate seat vacant to enable INEC to conduct a fresh election to elect a senator who will represent us at the senate. Your Excellency, declaring a vacancy in Abia North Senatorial District will repair the monumental injustice done to us and encourage hope in our senatorial district.”
Some of the placards the protesters displayed during the protest had inscriptions like ”Senate President obey section 68 (1)(f) of the Constitution and declare Abia North Senatorial seat vacant; ”Our voice must be heard, declare Abia North Seat Vacant now”, ” Declare Abia North Seat in the Senate Vacant”; “Abia North Constituents are saying declare the Seat Vacant.”