The Senate’s chief whip, Orji Kalu, on Tuesday resumed legislative duties about a week after he was released from prison for alleged fraud.
The former Abia State governor had been jailed for about six months at the correctional service after he was convicted and sentenced for money laundering to the tune of N7.1 billion by Lagos federal high court.
Mr Kalu, who stood trial alongside Ude Udeogu, a former director of finance and account in Abia, was sentenced by Justice Mohammed Idris, who as of then had been elevated to the court of ppeal bench, in a legal tussle that started in 2007.
But, on May 8 this year, the supreme court, in a unanimous decision by a seven-member panel led by Justice Amina Augie, held that the Lagos Federal High Court lacked jurisdiction when it convicted Mr Kalu, his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited, and Mr Udeogu.
However, the apex court verdict did not include releasing Mr Kalu from prison. His counsels, therefore, filed a suit before the Lagos federal high court for Mr Kalu’s release.
In a judgement read by Justice Mohammed Liman at the Lagos court, the correctional centre was ordered to release Mr Kalu from its Kuje facility in Abuja last Tuesday. The centre obeyed the next day.
Upon his return to the Senate on Tuesday, Mr was seen exchanging pleasantries with his colleagues, legislative staff and security operatives.
“I just want to thank God for everything that has happened. It is the will of God. I want to urge Nigerians to keep hope alive,” he told journalists as he approached the Senate chamber entrance.
Mr Kalu, however, did not resume his duty as chief whip. The deputy chief whip, Sabi Abdullahi, still acted in his stead.
Welcoming him, Senate President Ahmad Lawan expressed gratitude to God for having Mr Kalu back.
“I want to welcome our one and only chief whip of the Senate, and indeed the National Assembly. Chief whip, you are welcome, we are very grateful to the Almighty God for his blessings,” a cheerful Mr Lawan said as giggles spread across the chamber.
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