Tuesday, August 25, 2020 11:12 pm
Femi Fani-Kayode’s verbal missile on Eyo Charles, a Daily Trust journalist at a press conference in Calabar has been generating heat on the former Aviation Minister. The reporter asked him who had been bankrolling his trips to states to inspect projects, and Fani Kayode blew his top, calling the young man “stupid.”
However, the whole drama has boomeranged on him, making the chief himself a butt of verbal attacks. These criticisms came from the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Daily Trust and others.
First, NUJ condemned what it called the gangster-like outburst by Fani Kayode against the Cross River State Correspondent of the Daily Trust Newspaper, Eyo Charles who asked him a simple question which he felt was embarrassing. The was contained in a statement signed Chris Isiguzo, NUJ President.
The Union went further:
“In his reaction, Kayode assaulted the journalist and threatened him for daring to ask such a question.
By denigrating the journalist, Fani Kayode has exposed himself the more as an intolerant and unstable person who will not want his activities closely scrutinised by the Media.
It is instructive to remind the likes of Fani Kayode that it is the Constitutional right of Journalists to monitor and keep a check on people and institutions in power.
By delving into politics and holding political office, Fani Kayode is very conversant
with the watchdog role of the media.
For him to have embarked on assessment of projects in some states, even though we are yet to be told under what platform, he is doing so, it is proper for the media to hold him to account for his actions and decisions.
His reaction was totally unacceptable, dishonourable and reprehensible and we demand for retraction of his untoward, irritating and awkward utterances which negate simple decorum and civility.
We are more shocked that the same Kayode who had in recent times, used his social media handles to call leaders to account is at the same time attacking a Journalist for a simple demand for him to unmask those behind his nationwide tour. He had already visited six states. This is indeed, terribly disappointing.”
Lanre Arogundade, director International Press Centre, also gave Fani-Kayode a dig:
“This is absolutely disgusting. Disgusting for three reasons. First, that FFK elected to haul insults at a journalist who simply asked a question. When has it become an offence for a journalist to seek to clarify an allegation? Second, more disgusting that the journalist in question stood like a statue and later sat like a zombie instead of walking out on the charging bull. Third, absolutely disgusting that other colleagues sat there without protesting but instead chose to utter moronic sorry sir, sorry sir. Sorry for what for crying out loud!! I will be shocked if Daily Trust does not protest this assault on their reporter.”
However, Daily Trust, in a statement signed by Naziru Mikailu Abubakar, Executive Director/Editor-in-Chief,also wrote:
“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
Daily Trust journalists 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.”
Also, Kayode Samuel, another analyst, submitted:
“The trending videotaped encounter between my friend Femi Fani-Kayode and the Daily Trust reporter may just reveal more of what ails the Nigerian Press than whatever could be wrong with the interviewee. The soul of any interview is really the follow-up question. The reporter’s follow-up to Femi’s tirade should not have been “sorry sir” but an insistence that his question be answered. Could it be that as someone who has engaged the media through its years of steady decline, Femi already knew that he will get away with this kind of browbeating? One simple question: Would Femi have reacted to exactly the same question coming from a BBC reporter the same way, no matter how annoyed he felt? I expect so much frothing from the mouth as well as holier-than-thou huffing and panting from media leaders on this matter. But their energy is much better deployed towards the improved training and re-building of the self-confidence of their reporters. Plus, curbing the odious partisanship and compromising bribe culture that is at the root of the casual disdain with which even the lowliest of officials now relate to the Nigerian press…”