FORMER aviation minister Chief Femi Fani-Kayode has apologised for his volatile behaviour yesterday when he lashed out at a Daily Trust journalist in Calabar calling him stupid for daring to ask him if he was being bankrolled by a godfather.
Yesterday morning, Chief Fani-Kayode addressed a press conference during a trip to Cross River State and during the briefing was asked if there was anyone funding his trip. Rather than answer the question, the former minister exploded, calling the journalist stupid, saying it was insulting for him to be asked if he was being bankrolled by anyone.
Giving the journalist, Eyo Charles, a severe dressing down for daring to put such a question to him, Chief Fani-Kayode said he is not poor and never has been, so cannot be bought by anyone. His rant has attracted widespread condemnation, with the Nigeria Union of Journalists expressing its disgust at the incident and the management of Daily Trust threatening to report the matter to the police if any harm came to its reporter.
Under pressure from civil society groups too, Chief Fani-Kayode has issued a statement apologising for calling Mr Charles stupid. He said: “I met with my advisors till late last night and I wish to say 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.
“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 added that he remained a friend of the media and would be the last person to seek to disparage those that are honourable and noble within its ranks. In the Calabar interview, Chief Fani-Kayode had accused Mr Charles of judging him by his own standards, saying he must one of those journalists who receive brown envelopes from politicians.