Africa Media Development Foundation followed with displeasure the unprecedented outburst on Eyo Charles, a Daily Trust Correspondent by the former minister of aviation, Femi Fani Kayode on Thursday August 20, 2020 in Calabar, the state capital of Cross River, South-South Nigeria.
The incident happened at a press briefing in a private hotel to mark the end of the ex-minister’s tour of projects by the Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade.
The journalist had earlier stood to ask the governor “sir, you said you have gone round six or seven states to inspect projects undertaken by those governors, and now you are here in Cross River state, rounding off your one-week visit to governor Ayade. Who is bankrolling you?”.
Kayode who immediately verbally attacked the journalist called the journalist ‘stupid’; a video which has gone viral shows the journalist. continuously apologizing and acknowledging the insults meted out to him by the ex-minister.
Reports say the journalist had to quickly sneak out of the premises as he felt threatened after he was interrogated by FFK’s security aide.
However, Femi Fani Kayode (FFK) withdrew the word ‘stupid’ in a statement on Wednesday 26th August due to criticisms by several journalists, media bodies, and social media users in Nigeria.
“I met with my advisors till late last night and wish to say the following. I hereby withdraw the word ‘stupid’ which was 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” he said.
Furthermore, the statement issued by the Kayode is incomplete and weightless; withdrawing the word ‘stupid’ is not enough apology for the harsh tones used and saying that the journalist has a small mind.
We demand that a more detailed apology be tendered to Eyo Charles and every journalist in Nigeria as this is an insult on the Nigerian media.
Authorities must ensure that the journalist is safe from consequent attack and harassment.
Henceforth, politicians must desist from seeing journalists as their personal house aides that they can address without decorum, journalists should be treated with respect due them as the fourth estate of the realm.
As a media organization that promotes press freedom, AMDF is saddened by this attack on the journalist by a respected personality and former minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
AMDF will continue to speak up against every form of attack on the media even as we make it clear that an attack on a journalist is an attack on the entire journalism profession.