The management of Media Trust Limited, publishers of Daily Trust, has kicked against the verbal assault Femi Fani-Kayode launched on its reporter.
Fani-Kayode, former minister of aviation, had attacked Eyo Charles, a journalist who asked him a question at a press conference in Calabar, Cross River state, last week.
Eyo, a reporter with Daily Trust, had asked the ex-minister if his recent trips were being sponsored and Fani-Kayode flew into a rage shortly after.
In a statement, Naziru Abubakar, executive director/editor-in-chief of Daily Trust, said the attack on the reporter who was doing his job “is an indication of the chilling disregard he has towards the media, and its work in investigating and reporting on issues”.
The newspaper said Fani-Kayode’s “reprehensible actions” raises major concerns over the safety of journalists in Nigeria.
The newspaper called on the police to take note of the ex-minister’s action, saying he would be held responsible if anything untoward happens to the reporter.
“The encounter occurred in Calabar, Cross River State, in the morning of Thursday 20, August 2020 at a hotel, during a roundtable with invited journalists,” the organisation said.
“During the roundtable, Charles asked Fani-Kayode who was bankrolling his recent trips around Nigeria, to which the ex-minister responded with a raised voice, insults, and eventually a threat to inflict bodily harm on our reporter.
“The barrage continued for some minutes, while bewildered journalists, including our reporter, looked on.
“The video clip, also released on one of the ex-ministers social media accounts, was conveniently edited to exclude the question asked by Charles, totally devoid of mischief, simply sought clarification and information, like good journalism should.
“Said editing paved the way for a social media lynch mob to rain expletives on our reporter, labelling him as ‘rude’.
“This could not be further away from the truth, and we stand by Charles, and commend him for his calmness during the ordeal.
“Daily Trust reporters are responsible professionals, who uphold the tenets of journalism, as well as best practices.
“As always, we stand in solidarity with our reporters and will continue to fight for the rights of all journalists. After all, journalism is part of the bedrock of democracy; therefore practitioners must not be intimidated or threatened as they carry out their work.
“We urge the Nigeria Police to take note, that if anything happens to Charles, Daily Trust will hold Fani-Kayode responsible, especially due to the intensity of the verbal threats he issued during the shocking incident.”