The verbal attack on a Daily Trust reporter by a former minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, has been condemned by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
Mr Fani-Kayode was captured in a viral video pouring invectives on the reporter, Eyo Charles, whom he said asked him an “insulting” question.
The incident happened at a press briefing on Thursday in Calabar, Cross River State, where Mr Fani-Kayode wanted to talk to reporters about his tour of projects in the state.
The former minister got angry and told the reporter he was “foolish” for asking him who “bankrolled” his tour to Cross River and other states.
“What type of insulting question is that? Which bankroll? To do what? Who can give me money for anything? Who do you think you are talking to? Bankroll what? Go and report yourself to your publisher,” Mr Fani-Kayode said to the reporter.
“I could see from your face before you got here, how stupid you are. Don’t ever talk to me like that,” Mr Fani-Kayode kept yelling at the reporter who was still standing and apologising — “I am sorry, sir.”
“Don’t judge me by your own standards,” the former minister kept saying.
“I have been in politics since 1990. I am not one of those politicians that you think will just come…. I was taken, I have been locked up how many times by this government. I have been prosecuted, unlike most of these politicians you follow for brown envelopes!
“Don’t ever judge me by that standard. I spend, I don’t take and I am not a poor man, I have never been and will never be.”
The NUJ President, Chris Isiguzo, said in a statement, Tuesday, that Mr Fani-Kayode’s attack against Mr Charles was “gangster-like”.
Mr Isiguzo said the reporter was only asking “a simple question”.
“For him to have embarked on 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,” Mr Isiguzo said.
Mr Isiguzo said the former minister’s reaction to the reporter’s question was against “simple decorum and civility” and, therefore, “unacceptable, dishonourable and reprehensible”.
He demanded a retraction from him.
“By delving into politics and holding political office, Fani Kayode is very conversant with the watchdog role of the media.
“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,” the NUJ president said.
“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.”
Media Trust, the employer of the reporter, is yet to react to the development.