The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has condemned what it termed “gangster-like outburst” by Chief Femi Fani-Kayode against Cross River State-based journalist, Eyo Charles, over a question the former minister considered embarrassing.
Fani-Kayode had launched verbal assaulted on the journalist for daring to ask a question bordering on the source of the funding of his tour of projects in some states.
In a statement, yesterday, NUJ president, Chris Isiguzo, said by denigrating the journalist, Fani-Kayode had exposed himself as an intolerant 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.
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“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.
“His reaction was totally unacceptable, dishonourable and reprehensible and we demand for retraction of his untoward, irritating and awkward utterances which negate simple decorum and civility.
“We are more shocked that the same Fani-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.”
But Fani-Kayode has justified his outburst as he insisted that the action of the reporter was not a question but an insult.
He also said the “young man” has apologised to him during and after the press conference and he has accepted it in good faith and moved on.
“I have always had respect for journalists and I always will. Those of them that know me or have worked with or for me over the last 30 years can attest to that.
“However there is a distinction between asking a question and offering a gratuitous insult.
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“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.
“I repeat this was not a question but an assertion and an insult and I will not accept that from any man born of woman.”
He described report by Daily Trust that he sent his security men to threaten their reporter as false.
“I only reprimanded him for a premeditated plan to embarrass me and he apologised thereafter. That was all.
“This is not a battle between me and the esteemed Nigerian journalists who respect the ethics of the noble profession.
“I have always been and will always be a friend to journalists and a champion of freedom of speech. What I will not accept are brazen insults from an individual in the name of journalism. The assertion or assumption that I am being bankrolled by anyone is deeply insulting.
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Finally to the NUJ, I say you have got me completely wrong. It would have been better if you had heard my own side of the story and established who was behind this whole incident and attempt to embarrass me, who paid for it and how much they paid before going to press. Nevertheless I still hold you in high esteem,” the former minister said.
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