Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the management of Media Trust Limited, publishers of Daily Trust and other titles, have condemned Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, who in a video clip now gone viral, verbally assaulted repeatedly the newspaper’s reporter, Eyo Charles in the course of doing his job.
The paper noted that 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 former aviation minister “responded with a raised voice, insults, and eventually a threat to inflict bodily harm on our reporter,” it said in a statement.
It added:”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 FaniKayode 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.”
The statement was signed by Naziru Mikailu Abubakar, Executive Director/ Editor-in-Chief. NUJ condemned the “gangsterlike 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.”
NUJ added:”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.” The statement was signed by Chris Isiguzo, NUJ’s president.