Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Two weeks after Senate Chief Whip, Dr. Orji Kalu, regained freedom, National President, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Shettima Yerima, has thanked northern elders for standing behind the former governor of Abia State.
Yerima, however, accused leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the south of conspiring against Kalu.
Kalu was released from Kuje Correctional Centre, Abuja, after the Federal High Court in Lagos presided by Justice Muhammed Liman, ordered his release, in line with the Supreme Court judgment nullifying his trial and conviction.
The apex court had, in May, ruled that the trial and judgment delivered by Justice Mohammed Idris against Kalu and two others were null and void since the trial judge had no jurisdiction, having been elevated to the Court of Appeal.
Yerima thanked northern elders for “standing firm for Kalu” who he referred to as their “long time ally, brother and friend.”
He expressed gratitude to Prof. Ango Abdullahi, chairman of Northern Elders Forum (NEF) for proving critics wrong on the north’s stand on Kalu, while thanking the Supreme Court and Justice Liman for standing on the path of justice.
“It is very important to appreciate the justices of the Supreme Court and Justice Liman of the Federal High Court for their moral and professional courage to uphold justice. Kalu’s release is a victory for decency, for patriotism and respect for the rule of law. They once again proved that the judiciary is the survival of democracy,” Yerima said.
He said Kalu’s incarceration emanated from conspiracy and betrayal from his political party, the APC.
According to him, some leaders of the party from the south who have become desperate about 2023 presidency wanted Kalu out.
“They are full of hatred and they want to be president. The amount of hatred in that party is so much. What’s exactly Kalu’s offence? Look at what is also happening in Edo State. It’s a pity.”
He said Kalu’s travails were politically motivated and not about corruption, insisting: “I remember that when Kalu was a governor, he initiated the idea of publishing the state accounts in the print media.
That showed a lot. I think the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should have a rethink on Kalu’s case. My advice is that they should sheathe their swords and let Kalu be. They should not allow some desperate politicians to dictate to them what they should do.”
The Arewa youth leader slammed the leadership of pan-Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, for keeping silent during Kalu’s travails.
“It’s only the Ohanaeze youths that spoke strongly for Kalu, but (Nnia) Nwodo and his members shied away from the real leadership they ought to render.”
On the 2023 presidential election, Yerima said the north would not give up, declaring: “How can you think we will cede power to the south in 2023?
The north still want the presidency. The south is in charge of the economy and they have everything, so why would they want to take away the only thing we have?
“What would you call that? Even if we are ceding power to the south in 2023, we should be considering someone the North trusts and the northern elders will give their full support.”