A former Aviation Minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, has defended his damning attack on a Daily Trust reporter during a Press Conference in Calabar, the capital city of Cross-River State.
The reporter, Eyo Charles, had made a comment suggesting an entity was bankrolling the ex-minister’s tour of some southern states.
Fani-Kayode reacted by calling the reporter stupid, and said he was asking a stupid question. The attack continued while attendees watched on in amazement.
In a video that has now gone viral, Fani-Kayode was caught saying, “I am saying this on live TV. What type of stupid question is that? Bankrolling who? Do you know who you are talking to? I will not take any questions 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? 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 think I am one of those ones you… from who, when, how? You have a small mind, very small mind. Don’t judge me by your own standards.”
While there have been mixed reactions on social media, the Nigerian Union of Journalists condemned the comments made by Fani-Kayode, saying he assaulted and threatened the journalist. It also called on the Nigerian police to hold the ex-minister responsible if anything were to happen to Charles.
Its statement signed by the Union’s President, Chris Isiguzo yesterday read, “By denigrating the journalist, Fani-Kayode has exposed himself the more as an intolerant 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.”
“We are more shocked that the same Fani-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.”
However, Fani-Kayode replied and said he will not apologize for his conduct, and defending by saying US president, Donald Trump, and former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo would have reacted in a manner familiar to him.
He further said Charles had apologized to him.
The former minister said, “During my tour of the South and after a long and successful press conference in Calabar, Cross River 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 (Donald) Trump or OBJ (Olusegun Obasanjo) I know how they would have reacted. I have no apology to offer for it. The young man apologised to me during the press conference and sent his apologies to me after the conference. I have accepted his apologies in good faith and moved on.”