Metro & Crime

NUJ upraids Fani-Kayode over attack on journalist

  • Ex-minister’s actions are ‘reprehensible’ – Daily Trust


  • I’ve no apology, says FFK


Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has condemned the verbal attack by Chief Femi Fani-Kayode otherwise called FFK on the Cross River State correspondent of the Daily Trust Newspaper, Eyo Charles.


A video of the assault went viral yesterday, showing the former Aviation minister’s vituperations on the Daily Trust correspondent for asking why he was in the state to monitor government projects and who sponsored him.


The attack occurred at a press briefing held last Thursday, at a hotel allegedly owned by the state Governor, Ben Ayade. It was held at the end of Fani-Kayode’s visit to the state “to monitor projects executed by Governor Ben Ayade”.


After he had reeled out what he described as the achievements of the governor, Fani-Kayode told journalists present to “ask any question”. It was then Charles asked him who bankrolled his tour of six states. But, before he could end the question, Fani-Kayode descended on him with verbal assault and even threatened him.


The action drew outrage and condemnation among Nigerians, especially journalists. In its reaction to the incident, NUJ in a statement signed by its President, Chris Isiguzo, condemned the action of the former minister. Isiguzo described Fani-Kayode’s attack as totally unacceptable, dishonourable and reprehensible.


The NUJ president therefore demanded a retraction of “his untoward, irritating and awkward utterances which negate simple decorum and civility”. He said: “The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) condemns the gangster-like outburst by Chief Femi 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.


“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.”


Meanwhile, Charles has said he was disorganised, and had to apologise to Fani-Kayode when he  heard other reporters told him right there that he should not have asked the question. According to him, after the incident a “security aide” to the former minister walked up to him and began interrogating him.


He said he had to hurriedly leave the hotel premises. He added that the former Minister later called his editor in Daily Trust and demanded his sack. Charles said he regretted apologising to Fani- Kayode over the incident. He said: “I am 53, he is not much older than me. I am not a child, I am an adult and I have children.”


Also reacting to incident, the Cross River State Council of the NUJ has threatened to sanction any journalist in the state who covers any activity of Fani-Kayode whenever he visits the state.


The state NUJ Chairman, Mr. Victor Udu, issued the threat yesterday after a video of the assault went viral. Also, in a statement yesterday issued by the Executive Director/Editor-in-Chief, Naziru Mikailu Abubakar, the management of Media Trust Limited, publishers of Daily Trust, condemned Fani-Kayode’s “reprehensible actions”.


“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,” Abubakar said.


But in a statement yesterday, Fani-Kayode he felt insulted by the reporter’s question. He said: “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.” Fani-Kayode added that he had “no apology to offer for it”.


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