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NUJ, CSOs slam Fani-Kayode over verbal abuse of journalist

NEWSMAN, Abuja – The Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ and civil society organisations such as SERAP and the management of Daily Trust have all condemned former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode for calling a journalist in his own words – very stupid – for asking a question at a press briefing.

The uproar against Fani-Kayode’s comments follows the harassment and intimidation of Charles Eyo, a journalist with the Daily Trust newspaper in Calabar, Cross Rivers State that was captured in a viral video shared on social media platforms.

The NUJ referred to Fani-Kayode’s assault on the journalist as “gangster-like” while SERAP says no one should ever call a journalist “stupid” simply for doing their job

Daily Trust newspaper says it stands by its reporter as the question was totally devoid of mischief and that its journalist simply sought clarification and information, like good journalism should.

During the roundtable, Charles asked Fani-Kayode who was bankrolling his recent trips around Nigeria, to which the ex-minister responded with a raised voice, insults, and eventually a threat to inflict bodily harm on our reporter.

Femi Fani-Kayode at the briefing in Calabar, Cross Rivers state.


– Fani-Kayode won’t apologise –


FFK said if such question was posed to Donald Trump or Olusegun Obasanjo, they’d have reacted angrily also.

He said while the journalist has apologised to him, he will never accept such question from “any man born of a woman”.

“During my tour of the South and after a long and successful press conference in Calabar, Cross Rivers state, a journalist put up his hand for the last question and said,

“Well we do not know who is bankrolling you. This is not a question but an assertion and an insult.

“And if this insulting ASSERTION were made before Trump or OBJ I know how they would have reacted. Above is my response & I have no apology to offer for it. The young man apologised to me during the press conference & sent his apologies to me after the conference.

“I have accepted his apologies & moved on. I have always had respect for journalists & always will. Those of them that know me or worked with or for me over the last 30 years can attest to that. However there is a distinction between asking a question & offering an insult.

“This is all the more so when it is clear that the assertion was sponsored and engineered by my political enemies who wanted to use the young man to insult and embarrass me and question my integrity. Well they got more than they bargained for.

“I repeat this was not a question but an assertion and an gratutious insult and I will not accept that from any man born of woman. Thank you.“

Read the full statement by the management of Daily Trust newspapers below:

– Fani-Kayode’s Attack on Daily Trust Reporter: Our Stand –

The management of Media Trust Limited, publishers of Daily Trust and other titles, would like to condemn the reprehensible actions of Femi Fani-Kayode, who in a video clip now gone viral, verbally assaulted – repeatedly – our reporter, Eyo Charles in the course of doing his job. The encounter occurred in Calabar, Cross River State, in the morning of Thursday 20, August 2020 at a hotel, during a roundtable with invited journalists.

During the roundtable, Charles asked Fani-Kayode who was bankrolling his recent trips around Nigeria, to which the ex-minister responded with a raised voice, insults, and eventually a threat to inflict bodily harm on our reporter. The barrage continued for some minutes, while bewildered journalists, including our reporter, looked on.

The video clip, also released on one of the ex-minister’s social media accounts, was conveniently edited to exclude the question asked by Charles, totally devoid of mischief, simply sought clarification and information, like good journalism should. Said editing paved the way for a social media lynch mob to rain expletives on our reporter, labelling him as ‘rude’. This could not be further away from the truth, and we stand by Charles, and commend him for his calmness during the ordeal.

Daily Trust reporters are responsible professionals, who uphold the tenets of journalism, as well as best practices.

That Fani-Kayode attacks a reporter doing his job, is an indication of the chilling disregard he has towards the media, and its work in investigating and reporting on issues. As always, we stand in solidarity with our reporters, and will continue to fight for the rights of all journalists. After all, journalism is part of the bedrock of democracy; therefore practitioners must not be intimidated or threatened as they carry out their work.

We urge the Nigeria Police to take note, that if anything happens to Charles, Daily Trust will hold Fani-Kayode responsible, especially due to the intensity of the verbal threats he issued during the shocking incident.

The actions of Fani-Kayode are not only reprehensible, but also constitute a setback to press freedom, in a most dire form. This kind of assault raises major concerns over the safety of journalists in Nigeria.

Daily Trust is a completely independent media organisation that does not pander to the whims of any individual or group, no matter how powerful or well-placed in society. We will continue to serve Nigerians – and indeed the world – with quality, reliable reportage, no matter whose ox is gored.

Signed

Naziru Mikailu Abubakar
Executive Director/Editor-in-Chief

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