The Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) has 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 ICIR reports how Fani-Kayode had in Calabar during a press conference reacted angrily to a question asked by the reporter and how he verbally assaulted him.
Chris Isiguzo, the NUJ president in a statement issued on Tuesday said it was totally unacceptable, dishonourable and reprehensible.
Isiguzo said the NUJ demands a retraction of his untoward, irritating and awkward utterances which negate simple decorum and civility.
The union also 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 Nigeria Union of Journalists- NUJ condemns the gangster-like 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,” the statement read.
“In his reaction, Fani-Kayode assaulted the journalist and threatened him for daring to ask such a question. 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.”
The statement further read, “for him to have embarked on an 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.”
“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.”
Meanwhile, Fani-Kayode in reaction to the controversy being generated by his outburst said the journalist’s question of asking him who was funding his trip to South-South was an assertion and an insult.
He had said on his twitter handle, “During my tour of the South and after a long and successful press conference in Calabar, Cross Rivers 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 Trump or OBJ, I know how they would have reacted.
Above is my response & I have no apology to offer for it. The young man apologised to me during the press conference & sent his apologies to me after the conference I have accepted his apologies and moved on. I have always had respect for journalists and always will. Those of them that know me or worked with or for me over the last 30 years can attest to that. However there is a distinction between asking a question & offering an insult.”
He also alleged on his handle that the journalist was sponsored by his political enemies.
“This is all the more so when it is clear that the assertion was sponsored and engineered 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.”