When Mr. Eyo Charles, 53, of the Daily Trust newspaper quizzed Fani-Kayode on who was bankrolling his tour of projects across the south-south region, the politician replied by calling him stupid and rained more insults on him.
“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? I could see from your face, before you got here, how stupid you are. Don’t ever talk to me like that,” Fani-Kayode went on and on, before storming out of the room in a fit of rage.
After the clip went viral on Tuesday, August 25, Fani-Kayode vowed that he would offer no apologies for insulting the journalist.
“If this insulting assertion were (was) made before (Donald) Trump or OBJ (Olusegun Obasanjo), I know how they would have reacted,” he said. “I have no apology to offer for it.
“I have always had respect for journalists and always will. Those of them that know me or worked with or for me over the last 30 years can attest to that. However, there is a distinction between asking a question and offering an insult.
“This is all the more so when it is clear that the assertion was sponsored and engineered by my political enemies who wanted to use the young man to insult and embarrass me and question my integrity.
“Well, they got more than they bargained for,” the former minister insisted.
On Wednesday, August 26, 2020, Fani-Kayode said he is now withdrawing the word “stupid” from the avalanche of insults he hurled on the journalist, because he has many friends in the media.
Femi Fani-Kayode refuses to walk back his comments of August 20 (Premium Times)
“I met with my advisors 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.
“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. Now my tour of the south continues. Moving to another state today,” the former minister offered on Twitter.
Amnesty International condemns Fani-Kayode
Fani-Kayode’s latest diatribe has sparked social media outrage.
Amnesty International said it “condemns the threats made against” the journalist “by Fani-Kayode. Mr. Eyo is a reporter just doing his job. The actions of Mr. Fani-Kayode during that press conference are an attack on freedom of the press. These patterns of attacks on media and journalists must end.”
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has also condemned the former minister for his outburst.
Fani-Kayode, 59, was Special Assistant (Public Affairs) to former President Olusegun Obasanjo from July 2003 until June 2006.
Fani-Kayode worked with Olusegun Obasanjo until 2007 (Premium Times)
Obasanjo appointed Fani-Kayode his Minister of Culture and Tourism on June 22, 2006 and relieved him of the role on November 7, 2006.
Fani-Kayode served as Minister of Aviation from November 7, 2006 to May 29, 2007.