Group condemns Fani-Kayode’s insult, harassment on journalist
The Socio-Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP) has condemned the reported intimidation, harassment and attack on a Daily Trust Correspondent, Eyo Charles, by Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, and asked him to publicly apologise to the journalist.
In a post on its verified tweeter account, the civil rights group said: “No one should ever call any journalist stupid simply for doing this job.
“The media has a vital role to play as ‘public watchdog’ in imparting information of serious public concern and should not be inhibited or intimidated from playing that role.”
A video being circulated via WhatsApp showed Fani-Kayode leaving a media briefing after pouring invectives on the reporter, whom he said, asked him an ‘insulting’ question.
During the roundtable, the journalist asked Fani-Kayode who was bankrolling his recent trips around Nigeria, to which the former minister responded with a raised voice, and eventually a threat on the reporter.
HOWEVER, the former Minister of Aviation and member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Fani-Kayode, has responded to the event in Calabar yesterday, saying: “I have no apology to offer for it.
“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.”
“I have always had respect for journalists and I always will. Those of them that know me or have worked with or for me over the last 30 years can attest to that. However, there is a distinction between asking a question and offering a gratuitous insult.
“This is all the more so when it is clear that the assertion was sponsored 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.
“This was not a question but an assertion and an insult and I will not accept that.”
MEANWHILE, the management of Media Trust Limited, publishers of Daily Trust and other titles, in a statement signed by Naziru Mikailu Abubakar, Executive Director/Editor-in-Chief, said: “Fani-Kayode’s attack on 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.”
Abubakar asked 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.”The leadership of NUJ led by Mr. Victor Udu has not reacted yet on the matter.
However, in his reaction, Charles said he apologised not because he was not sure of his question but because of his choice of words and “there were many colleagues present who shouted at me when Fani-Kayode threw caution to the wind.
“The reaction from colleagues, some even shouted asking we didn’t expect you Charles to ask this question. That made me lost composure. Yes, in that state of shock and rude reaction from FKK, I said sir I’m sorry because I thought the word bankroll was offensive.”