By Yemi Adebowale
Contrary to reports on Thursday that an angry mob hurled water sachets and stones at a tent under which the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and some other dignitaries sat, at the Eid-el-Kabir prayer ground in Ilorin, Kwara State capital, the media office of the Senate President has since disclaimed the report.
According to media reports, Saraki was pelted with stones amid shouts of “ole” “ole” (thief! thief!), the mob, made up mainly of youths and workers in the state, reportedly defied security operatives at the Eid-el-Kabir prayer and threw objects at the tent. Saraki was reportedly smuggled out of the area by security operatives.
But the Senate president has however said that he was not attacked. Saraki, in a statement by his media office, said any report that indicated that he was attacked was false.
The statement partly read “Before the Senate President left the prayer ground, he spoke to reporters who had asked him about his message for Nigerians to mark the Eid-el-Kabir.
“We want to say that nothing can be further from the truth as the Senate President was never attacked nor was there any attempt made on his life to warrant him being ‘whisked away’ as reported by a section of the media.
“We however observe that there was a protest allegedly staged by local government employees over purported non-payment of salaries, which hoodlums attempted to hijack but this development was immediately curtailed by security agents.”
Saraki who is the Turakin of Ilorin, said no missile was hurled at him.
The Kwara State Police Public Relations, Mr. Ajayi Okasanmi, told journalists in Ilorin that the mob were made up of hoodlums who had come to beg for money but were disappointed as they could not get to where some prominent people were seated.
He said that the police had got information that some hoodlums, who normally beg for money at the prayer ground, were planning to cause trouble if they did not get enough money.
He said the police had arrested eight of the attackers and that the prayers later went on without hitches.
But a policeman, who was on duty at the prayer ground, told reporters that about eight vehicles that escorted Saraki to the venue were vandalised.
The Kwara State government condemned the attack on dignitaries at the prayer ground, saying it was absurd, barbaric and unIslamic.
According to a statement by Governor Abdulfattah Ahmed’s Chief Press Secretary, Abdulwahaab Oba, the government said it heard of plans by some aggrieved politicians, in collaboration with some of the local government employees and teachers, to protest arrears of salaries owed them by their various local government authorities.
He said that the government had gone out of its way to negotiate and secure bank loans to offset the arrears, pending the time when the Federal Government bailout would be released and that workers had received their salaries.