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Former minister of aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode has said that the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) misinterpreted his angry outburst against a reporter.
In a video now gone viral, Fani-Kayode had verbally attacked Eyo Charles, a Daily Trust 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.
“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 have a small mind, very small mind. Don’t judge me by your own standards,” he had said.
The NUJ in a swift statement, had condemned the act while demanding a retraction from the ex-minister.
The union said by the action, the ex-minister exposed himself as an intolerant and unstable person who will not want his activities closely scrutinised by the media.
But in a statement on Tuesday, Fani-Kayode said the NUJ failed to listen to his side of the story.
The ex-minister discredited claims that he threatened the reporter, saying he “only reprimanded him (the journalist) for a premeditated plan to embarrass me”.
Fani-Kayode said he remains a friend to journalists but added that an assumption that he is being bankrolled is an insult he would not accept.
“Permit me to add the following to my earlier statement. I have taken note of the report by Daily Trust on the incident. The content is false. I didn’t send any of my security men to threaten their reporter,” the statement read.
“I only reprimanded him for a premeditated plan to embarrass me and he apologised thereafter. That was all. This is not a battle between me and the esteemed Nigerian journalists who respect the ethics of the noble profession.
“I have always been and will always be a friend to journalists and a champion of freedom of speech. What I will not accept are brazen insults from an individual in the name of journalism. The assertion or assumption that I am being bankrolled by anyone is deeply insulting.
“Finally to the NUJ I say you have got me completely wrong. It would have been better if you had heard my own side of the story and established who was behind this whole incident and attempt to embarrass me, who paid for it and how much they paid before going to press. Nevertheless I still hold you in high esteem.”
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