Condemnations have continued to trail the verbal attack on Daily Trust Correspondent, Mr Eyo Charles by the former Aviation minister, Chief Femi Fani Kayode during a media parley.
During questionsandanswersession of a press conference organised by the former minister, Charles had asked Fani-Kayode who was bankrolling his tour of projects executed by the Cross-River State governor, Ben Ayade, but the ex-minister, who was visibly not pleased with the question, flared up and began to verbally assault the Daily Trust correspondent with uncomplimentary words.
The governor’s chief press secretary, Mr. Christian Itah, intervened and pleaded with the former minister to calm down, even as the reporter also apologised.
The minister later abandoned the press conference and went into his hotel room. In his reaction, chairman Cross River State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Comrade Victor Udu, condemned the former minister’s action, stressing that it was not in tandem with international best practice.
Also, NUJ national president, Mr Chris Isiguzo, in a statement, condemned in entirety, the attitude of the ex-minister, describing the attack as barbaric and savage, stressing that Fani-Kayode’s outburst was embarrassing.
Similarly, the International Press Centre (IPC) condemned the verbal assault inflicted on the journalist by Fani-Kayode.
The centre viewed the development as repulsive and unacceptable, saying there was nothing wrong with Journalist Eyo Charles wanting to know if the tour was an independent initiative or a sponsored one.
“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”, the executive director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade said.
IPC therefore, demanded that the former minister should apologise to the journalist and give an assurance of his safety in view of the alleged further threats.
IPC is of the view that journalists who are 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.
Also, the management of Media Trust Limited, publishers of Daily Trust and other titles, condemned what it described as the reprehensible actions of Femi Fani-
Kayode, who in a video clip that went viral, verbally assaulted their reporter, Eyo Charles repeatedly in the course of doing his job.
A statement issued by the executive director/editor-in-chief of the company, Naziru Mikailu Abubakar, he said Daily Trust reporters are responsible professionals, who uphold the tenets of journalism, as well as best practices.
“That Fani-Kayode attacked 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 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 statement added.
In his reaction, Fani-Kayode said the journalist’s comment was not a question but an insult.
“And if this insulting assertion were made before Trump or OBJ I know how they would have reacted.
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,” Fani-Kayode said.