Ex-minister Fani-Kayode Under Fire For Verbally Abusing Journalist

Several Nigerians have rallied in support of a Daily Trust reporter, Eyo Charles who was verbally abused by former Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode. 

Fani-Kayode, a former Nigerian minister of aviation, was caught on video tongue lashing a journalist who asked him a question during a recent press conference. 

The conference, held in Cross River, was part of his ongoing interstate tour. 

During the conference, the reporter Charles had asked the ex-minister if his recent trips were being sponsored and Fani-Kayode flew into a rage.

Fani-Kayode could be seen in the video menacingly addressing the journalist for daring to ask said question. 

He said, “Bankrolling what? Who do you think you are talking to? What type of stupid question is that? 

“I will not take any questions from this man. 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? Go and report yourself to your publisher.

“Please don’t insult me here. I could see from your face how stupid you are, don’t ever talk to me like that,” he said. 

Fani-Kayode went on to accuse the journalist of acting based on ‘brown envelope’ and described him as having a “small mind.”

He added that the journalist was rude and threatened to report him to his publisher.

“You have a small mind. I have been in politics since 1990 and I have not one of these politics you think will just come. 

“I have been locked up how many times by this government, suffered. I have been persecuted unlike most of the politicians you follow for brown envelope. 

“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 I will never be. 

“I am sorry this is deeply insulting. I don’t usually make this kind of noise. I have been doing press conferences for many many years.

“Bankroll who? A former minister, a lawyer? I have a short fuse. Don’t ever try that with me. 

“Try it with others. Whatever. Try it with me, I will hit you hard.

“If anybody sent you to ask that question and gave you brown envelope, go and tell them you got more than you bargained for. 

“Very rude. It is not the standard of daily trust at all and I will report you to your publisher,” he added. 

Following the attack, some Nigerians have chastised Fani-Kayode for his actions.

 @Larryphorite wrote, “By my own sense of judgement, it was a pure case of intimidation. If men were God, what then would become of this world? 

“Just a question and you rained insults of this nature? I want to believe that NUJ and Daily Trust will take him up.”

Babalola Olawale said, “No matter the type of questions asked, he should have answered naturedly and also enlighten the journalist out of it.”

Dan @Merrygunner said, “And the guy was even apologising  to make matters worse. They have to stand up for their ideals.” 

@Capt_demendria said, “Going by his response and constant mention of “bankroll” and “I spend, I don’t take”, I’d assume he asked FFK if truly he is being sponsored for something. 

@Isamaila_Gdk said, “The truth most Politicians have a hidden tyranny trait in them. Just give them power and see it manifest.

“A lot of foreign journalists often ask worse questions, far more than this but you hardly see them respond this harshly.”

It began a debate on press freedom and the rights of journalists in Nigeria. 

The issue of press freedom in Nigeria and the general ill  treatment of journalists have remained running battles for the profession.

According to a recent report by the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) Press Attack Tracker, 148 assaults were collated between June 2015 to May 2019.

Also, the investigation tallied a total of 28 arrests. 

The research also found that in all of the cases, at least one form of the human or civil rights of the journalists was usually violated. 

Typical of most of these cases is the tendency of the aggrieved parties to first trample on the right to the freedom of expression of journalists.

Meanwhile,  some Nigerians were outraged about the lack of solidarity from fellow journalists while the reporter, Charles, was being abused. 

The other journalists sat at the table where some kept apologizing to Fani-Kayode and others remained completely silent. 

When the ex-minister walked away from the conference, about two journalists reached out to console the insulted colleague. 

The rest stayed quiet and wore puzzled looks on their faces. 

Shortly after, one of the people in the room was heard telling the reporter, “you see yourself now?” with a disapproving tone.

Commenting on the issue, Victoria Ibanga, on facebook, said, “No profession should take this insult from any former minister or any other person for that matter. 

“I’m even surprised that his colleagues were blaming him for asking the so-called question. 

“What silly question did he ask to warrant that insult from a former public officer? What the heck! And they didn’t walk out?”

Abimbola Orija said, “But what are other journalists in the room supposed to do? 

“I think they ought to stage a walkout on the arrogant man who daily insults the presidency at will but can’t stand the heat when it’s his turn. 

“The other journalists in that room are the brown envelope journalists he was talking about,” she said. 

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Anita Eboigbe

Anita Eboigbe is a journalist and data analyst with nearly a decade of media and communications experience in Nigeria. She has expertise in human interest reporting, data reporting, interactive content development and media business management. Anita has written for several national and international publications with a focus on communication for development. She holds an honours degree in Mass Communication and several certifications in data analysis and data journalism.

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