FEMI Fani-Kayode, a former Minister of Aviation has apologised for his outburst against the Daily Trust journalist whom he had threatend to ‘hit hard’ in a video that has gone viral.
The ICIR reported how Fani-Kayode, in a video during a press conference in Calabar, Cross River State flared up when Eyo Charles, a Daily Trust reporter asked him who was bankrolling his South South tour of projects.
But his action has since attracted widespread condemnation from stakeholders in the media industry, including the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), the Media Trust Limited, publishers of Daily Trust titles, Amnesty International and individuals who have asked him to apologise to the reporter.
Later, Fani-Kayode via his Twitter handle apologized.
However added that he did not threaten to physically harm the journalist or send anyone to threaten him, in contradiction to an account of the event earlier made by the reporter.
Eyo Charles had said he was further threatened by a security aide attached to the former minister after the verbal attacks.
Charles had said during the press conference that he asked the former minister to disclose who was bankrolling his tour, which he said saw the former minister “rained terrible abuses on me, calling me unprintable names; that I was sponsored to come and ask and insult him.”
“When he returned to his suite, he sent one of his security aides to further threaten me. The man accosted me, saying what effrontery do you have to ask such a stupid question, and what was my next action.”
Fani-Kayode in a series of tweets on his Twitter handle expressed regret for the outburst, insisting that he never made a threat of physical harm.
“I hereby express my regrets for doing so I do however wish to state categorically that no threat of physical harm was ever made to the journalist in question and neither did I send anyone to threaten him. Anyone that says otherwise is lying and I challenge them to bring the proof.”
“I would never seek to physically harm a journalist. For the last 30 years, I have defended & worked with journalists & fought for the right of freedom of expression.”
Meanwhile, Human Rights Organisation, Amnesty International also condemned the threats made against the journalist.
The human rights organisations said in a series of tweets posted on its twitter handle that Eyo is a reporter just doing his job, noting that the actions of Fani-Kayode during that press conference were an attack on freedom of the press.
“Journalists seek accountability on behalf of the people and should not be threatened or abused for asking questions. These patterns of attacks on media and journalists must end. Journalists play a key role in promoting the right to information by documenting and disseminating information. Journalists have been contending with challenges that make their job difficult. They should be able to do their job free from violence, abuse and threats” the tweets read.
Also, Lanre Arogundade, the Executive Director of International Press Centre (IPC) in a statement by Olutoyin Ayoade, the Communications Officer of the center also condemned the verbal assault inflicted on the journalist by the former Minister of Aviation.
Arogundade said, “The former Minister had the option of not answering the question and the abuses were totally out of place in the context of the event.”
“IPC views this development as repulsive and unacceptable since there was nothing wrong with Journalist Eyo Charles wanting to know if the tour was an independent initiative or a sponsored one.”
He said the IPC was of the view that journalists who were saddled with the constitutional obligation of monitoring governance and holding the government accountable to the people should not be subjected to harassment in the course of duty.
The Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) also criticised the action of Femi Fani-kayode, a former Minister of Aviation in a viral video where he threatened to attack Eyo Charles, a journalist with the Daily Trust Newspaper.
The union said by denigrating the journalist, Fani-Kayode has exposed himself the more as an intolerant and unstable person who would not want his activities closely scrutinised by the media.
The Socio-Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP) in reaction, called on the government to investigate the threat against the reporter.
SERAP in a series of tweets said, “We call on Nigerian authorities to probe reports of harassment, intimidation & threats against @daily_trust journalist Eyo Charles by ex-minister of aviation Femi Fani-Kayode & to hold him to account. Authorities must ensure the security and safety of Charles.”
“Nigerian authorities have a responsibility to effectively investigate the alleged threats against Charles. Any failure to investigate the threats against the journalist will continue to contribute to an environment of fear & self-censorship in the country.”