The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, was absent at the All Progressives Congress (APC) caucus and National Executive Council Meetings due to his involvement in other unavoidable activities, his media aide, Yusuph Olaniyonu, has said.
Mr. Saraki was absent at the crucial APC NEC meeting which approved a one-year tenure extension for the John Odigie-Oyegun-led National Working Committee of the party as well as all other leadership structures of the party at the state and local government levels.
The development has fuelled speculation on Mr. Saraki’s position on the extension, even as the party contends with crises at national and state levels.
However, in a statement on Thursday, Mr. Olaniyonu said the senate president was unable to attend his party’s National Caucus meeting due to his late arrival from Benin where he graced an event on human trafficking.
On Tuesday, Mr. Saraki was at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) where he was requested to appear in person, Mr. Olaniyonu added.
The statement reads, “On Monday, the Senate President was in Benin from morning till 6.15 p.m., attending the Senate Roundtable on Migration and Human Trafficking, one of the interventions by the lawmaking body to source for legislative and policy solutions to one of the major problems plaguing the youth in our country today. The event was attended by Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, his Deputy, Hon. Phillip Shuaib, representatives of the Governor of Delta State and Oba of Benin, international partners and many stakeholders.
“Dr. Saraki and his delegation, including Senators, returned to his Abuja home at 7.45 pm, while the APC National Caucus meeting was scheduled to begin by 8.00 pm on the same night. Clearly, there was no way he could have arrived at the venue on time, especially as it would be a breach of protocol to do so at a meeting presided over by the President.
“On Tuesday when the NEC meeting was holding at the APC secretariat, the Senate President was at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) where he was fighting to clear his name as the defendant in an ongoing case. Dr. Saraki did not fix the date of the adoption of briefs by prosecution and defence lawyers. The Tribunal did, and by law, Saraki must be physically present at the Tribunal as the defendant.
“It stands to reason that he cannot be in two places at once, and so he was unavoidably absent at the NEC meeting.”
Mr. Olaniyonu warned those peddling falsehood about the reason for Mr. Saraki’s absence to desist from doing so.
The statement reads further, “Let me also state clearly here that Dr. Saraki is not one to sneak into a room via the window. He would rather enter through the front door so that his entry is well noted and acknowledged.
“Nigerians know that when he joined the APC, he did not sneak in. Therefore, no one should attach any mischievous or inaccurate interpretation to his absence at the two meetings held at times when his whereabouts were a matter of public record.
“Sponsors of misinformation as to why Saraki was not present at the Caucus and NEC meetings should be clear that there is no special reason behind the absence. The Senate President is not a coward. When he left the PDP in 2014, he was bold enough to inform the then President of his decision and left openly with his supporters. He therefore has no reason to be sneaking or hiding now.” ( Premium Times)