Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, former Minister of Aviation, has apologised for calling a journalist from Daily Trust Newspaper, Eyo Charles, “stupid”.
Fani-Kayode publicly declared this in a statement he released on Wednesday.
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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.”
Fani-Kayode, however, denied allegations that he was threatening to harm the Daily Trust reporter.
“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,” he said.
Fani-Kayode said he remained a friend of the media and would be the last to seek to disparage those that are honourable and noble within its ranks.
The former minister had come under heavy criticism for calling the reporter ‘stupid’ during a press conference in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
In a video that has since gone viral on social media, Fani-Kayode is seen giving the Daily Trust reporter a dressing down for asking him a “stupid question”.
The ex-minister, who began a tour of some Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) states in July, visited Cross River last week. It was gathered that at the end of the tour, he held a press conference where he showered encomiums on Ben Ayade, governor of Cross River.
However, Fani-Kayode reportedly flew into a rage after Eyo, a reporter with Daily Trust, asked him if his recent tour of several southern states were being sponsored.
He said, “I am saying this on live TV. What type of stupid question is that? Bankrolling who? Do you know who you are talking to? 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 don’t want to take any questions from this man.
“I could see from your face before you got here, how stupid you are. Don’t ever talk to me like that. Who do you think you’re talking to? Bankroll who? You think I am one of those ones you… from who, when, how? You have a small mind, very small mind. Don’t judge me by your own standards.”
“I have been in politics since 1990… I have been locked up 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.
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“Bankroll how? Don’t ever suggest that to me. I am sorry that was deeply insulting. I don’t often get annoyed in press conference. I have been doing this type of thing for so many years. Don’t you ever make that kind of suggestion to me. Bankroll who? A former minister, a lawyer? Don’t ever try that with me again o, please. You see me well, don’t ever. Try it with others, but with me, don’t! I will hit you hard and if anybody sent you to ask that question and gave you brown envelope, go and tell them that you got more than they bargained for to do it.
“Very rude. It is not the standard of Daily Trust at all and I will report you to your publisher. Thank you. Somebody that has been on the road for how long, you are coming to talk about that. Very stupid.”
The ex-minister had asked if there were other questions but he did not entertain any other question before storming out of the hall in anger.
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It was also gathered that despite the attempts the Chief Press Secretary to Gov Ayade, Christian Ita, to pacify Fani-Kayode, he continued raining insults on the reporter outside the hall.
“You can go ahead and write your rubbish. I have marked you,” a journalist who witnessed the incident quoted Fani-Kayode as telling Charles.
The Nigeria Union of Journalists has since condemned the actions of the ex-minister. On the other hand, the management of Daily Trust has threatened to report to the police if any harm comes to its reporter.
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