Unic Press UK: The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the publishers of Daily Trust Newspaper have issued separate statements denouncing a barrage of verbal attack by a former minister of aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, at a correspondent of the Daily Trust Newspaper, Nigeria, known as Eyo Charles.
The reaction of the NUJ and Daily Trust follows a video in wide circulation showing Fani-Kayode as he rebuked Charles, a journalist, who had sought information on how the former minister funds his trips to several states of the federation to see/appraise state government-financed projects.
Fani-Kayode, in a response to the Charles’ comment “sir, please you did not disclose to us who is bankrolling you…”, said:
“What type of stupid question is that? Bankrolling who? Do you know who you are talking to? I will not take any question from this man. What type of insulting question is that? Which bankroll? To do what? Who can give me money for anything? Who do you think you are talking to? Bankroll what? Go and report yourself to your publisher. Please don’t insult me here. I don’t want to take any questions from this man. I could see from your face before you got here, how stupid you are. Don’t ever talk to me like that. Who do you think you’re talking to? Bankroll who? You have a small mind, very small mind.”
Disappointed over the manner Fani-Kayode spoke to the Charles, who merely put a question across to the former minister during a press conference, the NUJ, through its president, Chris Isiguzo, described the former minister as intolerant and unstable. Isiguzo said:
“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.”
“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.”