Former Aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, has threatened a N6 billion defamation suit against Media Trust limited, the publisher of Daily Trust newspapers and a columnist, Iliyasu Gadu, over an opinion article.
The controversial piece was a response to Mr Fani-Kayode’s verbal assault against a Daily Trust reporter, Charles Eyo, which was widely reported last week.
The former minister hurled abusive words at the journalist during a press conference in Calabar, the capital city of Cross River State, an action largely condemned by media practitioners and organisations.
Records of previous engagements of Mr Fani-Kayode with journalists privy to PREMIUM TIMES showed his encounter with Mr Eyo is the least insulting.
Meanwhile, after a heavy backlash and boycotts of his press conferences by journalists in different states he visited, Mr Fani-Kayode withdrew his words and apologised for his ‘unwise’ action.
However, in his opinion published on Daily Trust on Sunday, Mr Gadu addressed the issue, describing the former minister as a “Drug Addled Thug In Designer Wears.”
“Last week, FFK was at his yobbish worst during a press briefing in Calabar where in response to a question from a Daily Trust reporter Eyo Charles as to who was financing the trips he (FFK) had been embarking on round the country, he let rip at the poor reporter. Suddenly FFK who takes it as licence to hurl volleys of invectives at just about anyone in Nigerian public life had his thin skin exposed. Like a boxer with a glassy jaw, which the gentlest of jabs was all that was needed to shatter his thinly covered veneer of respectability was ruthlessly exposed,” Mr Gadu wrote.
In the concluding paragraphs, the writer opined that with “his latest oafish behaviour, it is about time FFK met his comeuppance. His verbal assault at the reporter should be seen as an attack at the very profession that provides him with the necessary oxygen and limelight to remain relevant in the Nigerian public space. If he did to a lawyer in the legal profession he belongs to the journalist in Calabar he would have faced immediate sanctions. (Ask Governor El Rufai).
”Suffice it to say he is not even reckoned with in the legal profession. Even the so-called “charge and bail’’ lawyers one sees often hanging around courtrooms are likely to have better records of achievement in the profession than him.”
In two separate letters dated August 30, Mr Fani-Kayode described the article as a spurious publication aimed at denigrating his person.
The letters, signed by his lawyer, Adeola Adedipe, were issued to the Managing Director of Media Trust Limited and Mr Gadu.
Mr Adedipe insisted that the article painted his client as a man of low esteem without dignity or reputation; that he is a pariah and disgrace to his state of origin.
“That he lacks character training in the best traditions of an English man and therefore unfit to be an alumnus of the prestigious Cambridge University and University of London; he is not fit to have been called to the Nigerian Bar, as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
“That he is not only a bad ambassador of the Peoples Democratic Party, but is also not worthy to hold any political office; g he is an endangered species, which should be avoided by all and sundry, particularly journalists.
“Without mincing words, you have disparaged our Client by your remarks, in the eyes of right-thinking members of the society: and these remarks have been found to be false and slanderous of him.”
According to the letter, Mr Fani-Kayode has not only suffered an immeasurable loss of goodwill, but he is currently confronted with unbearable opprobrium by his fans, followers and colleagues across the globe.
Within 14 days, Media Trust Limited, the publisher and Mr Gadu are expected to respond to the demand for a retraction, apology on two national dailies and the sum of six billion naira as compensation,
The lawyer said the failure of Media Trust Limited, the publisher and Mr Gadu to publish the retraction and apology will ”leave our Client with no preferred alternative than to seek redress in Court. This redress shall also include a claim that you are unfit to function as a journalist because your defamatory and slanderous remarks were borne out of an inept appreciation of basic codes of journalism.”