A former Nigerian Aviation Minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, on Wednesday, apologised for calling a journalist in Cross River State working for Daily Trust Newspaper ‘stupid’ during a press conference in the state.
Fani-Kayode was seen in the viral video yelling at the journalist who identified himself as Eyo Charles and calling him stupid, insisting that he has no apology for his response.
VIDEO | “You are very stupid”, former Nigerian minister Femi Fani-Kayode attacks @daily_trust journalist at press conference
???? Africa TV pic.twitter.com/0TfMYiQRJK
— SIGNAL (@thesignalng) August 25, 2020
According to Fani-Kayode, the journalist’s question was “an assertion and insult”, saying he has been engineered by his political enemies who wanted to embarrass him. However, in a statement on Wednesday, the former Aviation Minister said he met with his advisors till late last night and wishes to withdraw the word “stupid” which he used in his encounter with the journalist in Calabar.
He said, “I met with my advisors till late last night and I wish to say the following. I hereby withdraw the word “stupid” which I used in my encounter with a journalist in Calabar.
“I have many friends in the media who I offended by losing my cool and using such words. 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 and worked with journalists and fought for the right of freedom of expression.
“I am also very close to many in that profession. I would be the last to seek to disparage those that are honorable and noble within its ranks. “I hope that this will assuage the pain and anger of anyone that was hurt or offended by this ugly episode. I have now put this matter behind me and moved on. Now my tour of the South continues. Moving to yet another state today!”- FFK
I met with my advisors & I wish to say the following. I hereby withdraw the word “stupid” which I used in my encounter with a journalist in Calabar. I have many friends in the media who I offended by losing my cool & using such words. I hereby express my regrets for doing so.1/4
— Femi Fani-Kayode (@realFFK) August 26, 2020
Eyo, while narrating his ordeal on Tuesday said Fani-Kayode had given the go-ahead to be asked questions, but when it came to the question of “bankrolling”, he lost his cool.
The reporter also explained that he was threatened by a security agent attached to the former minister, and had to “sneak” out of the place.
Reacting to the development, the management of Media Trust Limited, publishers of Daily Trust, on Tuesday backed Eyo, condemning the former minister’s verbal assault on the reporter.
In a statement, Naziru Abubakar, executive director/editor-in-chief of Daily Trust, said the attack on the reporter who was doing his job “is an indication of the chilling disregard he has towards the media, and its work in investigating and reporting on issues”.
The newspaper said Fani-Kayode’s “reprehensible actions” raises major concerns over the safety of journalists in Nigeria.
The newspaper called on the police to take note of the ex-minister’s action, saying he would be held responsible if anything untoward happens to the reporter.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also condemned Fani-Kayode for “his verbal harassment”.
Attempts to intimidate or threaten journalists are never justified. https://t.co/b8431FseBl
— CPJ Africa (@CPJAfrica) August 25, 2020
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