The embattled Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has denied going into hiding to evade police arrest over the corruption charges he is facing before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
He also denied planning to defect from the All Progressives Congress, APC, on whose platform he won the March 28 poll to the upper legislative chamber.
The Tribunal had on Friday ordered the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, to arrest Mr. Saraki and produce him on Monday following the failure of the Senate President to appear before it to answer a 13-count criminal charge preferred against him by the Federal Ministry of Justice.
The senate president, through his lawyers, however approached the Court of Appeal immediately, requesting it to set aside the order for his arrest.
The media aide to Senate President, Yusuph Olaniyonu, told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview on Sunday that the senate president was not in hiding as being speculated, but merely travelled to his home town in Ilorin.
He explained that Mr. Saraki, who represents Kwara Central Senatorial District, made the trip to calm tension that had built up among his constituents and attend to other engagements.
“How can he be hiding? He travelled to Ilorin to pray and calm frayed nerves and attend to some engagement,” Mr. Olaniyonu said.
“He will return today (Sunday) to the Guest House to which he moved when a section of his house got burnt some weeks ago. You know he moved to the Guest house before the issue of Code of Conduct arose and so it was not because of the issue he moved.”
Mr. Olaniyonu said he was not aware that a bench warrant had been issued though he could not confirm if the senate president would appear before the Tribunal on Monday.
According to him, it is only Mr. Saraki’s lawyers that could provide answer to that. He said the matter may come up at the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the CCT on Monday.
The senate president, while responding to questions on his official Twitter handle, denied planning to defect to the Peoples Democratic Party, to which he belonged until early 2014.
Mr. Saraki was alleged to be planning to dump the APC after stripping the party’s name from his twitter bio.
“I remain a card-carrying member of my dear party. But I’m also honoured to serve as Senate President of all Senators,” he said in a terse statement on the twitter handle.
Meanwhile, the Ilorin Emirate Descendant Progressive Union has described the current travails of Mr Saraki as “purely politically motivated.”
The National President of the IEDPU, Abdulhamid Adi, who stated this on Sunday, wondered why the Code of Conduct Bureau failed to raise any issue concerning the Senate President’s asset declaration forms since 2003.
“I see it more or less a political persecution. It is purely political. Maybe there are some political opponents that are trying to get at him,” he said.
Mr. Adi admonished the CCB not to allow itself to be used to achieve certain political gain but instead do its jobs without external influence.
He stated that Mr. Saraki, who is the Turaki of Ilorin, is the first son of the Ilorin Emirate and Kwara State in general, to emerge Senate President and therefore expressed solidarity with him.
Mr. Adi stressed, “We believe he will come out of it. You are presumed innocent until proven otherwise.