Why would Orji Uzor Kalu weep in public and we laugh at the distinguished Senator whose credentials stretch thus – accomplished business magnate, wrongly-jailed Senate Chief Whip, two-time Governor of Abia State?
Those who insist wrongly on spelling his dear title as “Chief Weep” may think he was on official duty when he drew on parliamentary immunity to loosen his lachrymal glands. Not a few were shocked.
Kalu reaped headlines from his tears. He earned them just as he earned the circumstances that resulted in those tears that unexpectedly flowed more than four years after Justice Mohammed Idris jailed him and Udeh Udeogu, Director of Finance, Government House, while Kalu was governor, for 12 years, for alleged diversion of N7.65 billion of Abia State funds to their personal use. Some Kalu companies were to be forfeited to the Federal Government.
A disconcerted Orji was only able to ask the prison officials, “Where are you taking me to?” as they led him to a change of address, Ikoyi Prison on 8 December 2019. Christmas, New Year, and his 60th birthday were in jail as efforts to return him to freedom failed.
He did six months between Ikoyi and Kuje Prison before the Supreme Court quashed the sentence, and ordered his immediate release and a re-trial because Justice Idris was already a judge of the Court of Appeal when he jailed Kalu.
Kalu says Nigeria was unfair to him excluding a couple of Senators who stood by him. Principally, he must be grateful to his room-mate at the University of Maiduguri, immediate past Senate President Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan, who ensured his seat, status, and entitlements were intact during his months in prison.
Such unfairness did Nigeria heap on him that for six months – 8 December 2019 to 3 June 2020 – Abia North was represented from jail. For his own personal reasons, Kalu’s account of his time in jail keeps reading five months. No, six months less five days; cannot be five months.
Kalu had pledged in a drivel as he stepped out of Kuje on 3 June 2020, that he would dedicate his life to fighting injustice for the unjustly jailed, like him. “I have come to know that the course of justice will not be complete if it stopped at my case. It must continue until it touches the lives of millions of Nigerians who face injustice anywhere in this world. I shall be dedicating my time henceforth to ensuring there will be justice for all Nigerians whether they are in Sokoto or Akwa Ibom or in Lagos or Maiduguri or in Jos or Enugu, or wherever they may be. A system whereby over 70% of all prison inmates population is made up of people awaiting trial cannot be allowed to continue. Justice must now mean justice for all. That is my pledge to Nigerians,” Kalu said.
Did he weep so profusely because he did not keep his words? Unlikely. Even Kalu knows that nobody took him serious except the inmates he mesmerised with momentary mercifulness.
Kalu wept. He wept over injustice Nigeria did him by calling him a thief while ignoring the real thieves.
“I never lacked. When the PDP that I was governor for two terms was being formed, I brought every money they used in forming that party, every penny in 1997 and 1998. I later became a thief, and people I gave transport money from my house to VI became agents: this is what Nigeria represents,” he sheded more tears to sell the point. “I want to thank my colleagues for giving me the voice of uninterrupted support because this country is not fair to so many of us. I have three factories in Lagos. I have two factories in Otta. I have factories in Aba, and I am a thief, and people that have not displayed where their source of wealth came from are not thieves. I leave everything in the hands of God,” amidst more tears.
With Kalu, distance from logic is hardly ever in doubt. When did abundance of factories and millions to dash the party and its faithful stop people from helping themselves to public funds? Kalu is different until otherwise proven. Is it possible that Kalu, and alone, started funding the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in 1997, though the party was formed in 1998? He was funding PDP when General Sani Abacha was alive?
Nigeria’s unfairness to Kalu cannot be left in the hands of the Almighty, as Kalu would want. The Supreme Court ordered a re-trial. Kalu should fast track the re-trial if only to prove his innocence and our unfairness to him.
In fairness to Kalu, those who laugh at him do not understand that before them is a man who is exceptionally intentional about moments. He seizes and squeezes them to his advantage.
How many Senators spoke at the valedictory session? How many do you remember what they said? Will you forget that Kalu wept, some say knowing that another unfairness awaited him with the decision on the Senate presidency?
Kalu has again escaped anonymity in the new Senate. Anonymity is something he likes to hate. He would prefer being called the Weeping Senator to us having no memories of him at all.
SENATOR Adamu Mohammed Bulkachuwa, 83, praised his wife Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa, former President of the Court of Appeal for helping his fellow Senators. Senate President Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan denied us details of the assistance to the Senator with shouts of, “Distinguished Senator Bulkachuwa don’t follow that way”.
IN case you have forgotten that Senator Rochas Okorocha is a lawyer, be so reminded. He asked Senator Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan how he made it back to the Senate after they both ran for their party presidential primary under an Electoral Act that forbade contesting two positions in one election season. Lawan mumbled something about “my people wanted me”, maybe unlike Okorocha.
ANGER against Godwin Emefiele, suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria is both public and private. Millions of Nigerians cannot forget him. Some of the allegations against him in the media make no sense. He should be charged to court. The charges can be amended as the case goes on. At least, let us know, officially, what he did, what he did not do, and what he should have done.
HAPPY birthday to Vanguard Publisher Sam Amuka, Uncle Sam to all, who turned 88 on 13 June. Your inimitable generosities to all who come your way, in words, in deeds, and indeed, speak volumes. May the Almighty be kind to you, always.
.Isiguzo is a major commentator on minor issues