FORMER Abia State governor and current chief whip of the Nigerian senate Senator Orji Uzor Kalu has announced plans to buy a 35% in English Premier League football club Arsenal.
Senator Kalu, who still has corruption charges hanging over him as he only recently got out of prison on a technicality, is a billionaire with a passion for football. Announcing his plans on social media platforms Twitter, WhatsApp and Facebook, Senator Kalu took his followers down memory lane, pointing out that it was when he was Abia State governor that the local team Enyimba of Aba excelled.
Back then, Enyimba became the first Nigerian club to win the CAF Champions League, lifting the trophy twice during Senator Kalu’s tenure as governor. Between 1999 and 2007 when Senator Kalu was governor, Enyimba was the undisputed king of Nigerian football, producing players for the Super Eagles including the likes of Vincent Enyeama, Obinna Nwaneri and Romanus Orjinta.
According to Senator Kalu, his target is for Arsenal to win the Premier League and the Uefa Champions League like Enyimba did. For over a decade, Another Nigerian, Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote, has had his eyes on Arsenal and still nurses hopes if buying the club in 2021.
On December 5 2019, Senator Kalu was sentenced to 12 years in jail after being found guilty of fraud to the tune of N7.65bn ($21m) while he was Abia State governor. He was convicted alongside his firm, Slok Nigeria and a former director of finance at the Abia State government house, Jones Udeogu.
However, on May 8 this year, his conviction for corruption and money laundering quashed by the Nigerian Supreme Court on a technicality that he was convicted by the wrong type of court. Senator Orji was released after the Supreme Court ruled that Justice Mohammed Idris, who convicted him had been elevated to the Court of Appeal bench, so thus had no jurisdiction to hear his case.
Subsequently, Senator Kalu was released after spending over six months of incarceration at the Kuje Correctional Centre and has since resu7med his duties as the chief whip of the Nigerian senate. In February last year, Senator Kalu, 59, was elected as the senator representing Abia North Senatorial District with a margin of over 10,000 votes despite the pending corruption charges against him.