The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has explained why he did not attend Monday’s National Caucus meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Tuesday’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party in Abuja.
Saraki said in a statement issued on Thursday by his media adviser, Yusuph Olaniyonu, that he was in Benin, Edo State, for a Roundtable meeting on Migration and Human Trafficking, one of the intervention initiatives organised by the Senate.
“Dr. Saraki and his delegation, including Senators, returned to his Abuja home at 7.45 p.m., while the APC National Caucus meeting was scheduled to begin by 8.00 p.m. 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,” the statement said.
It added that Saraki could not attend the NEC meeting because he was at the Code of Conduct Tribunal in continuation of his trial for false assets declaration.
“Dr. 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.
“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 Dr. 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.
“It is incontrovertible that he is a leader, major stakeholder and founding father of the APC. Nothing has changed with regard to all these. I hope this clarification will halt the speculations, misinformation, misinterpretation, mischief and fake news about the ‘why’ and ‘what’ of his absence at the APC National Caucus and NEC meeting.