By Sulaiman Maijama’a
I felt scandalized this morning when i watched the video footage of Femi Fani-Kayode that went viral, in which he dared assault and insult repeatedly a Dailytrust journalist, Eyo Charles in the course of doing his professional calling. The encounter, which attracted public attention, occurred in Calabar, Cross Rivers State on Thursday August 20th, 2020 at a hotel during a press conference. The only crime of the jounalist was asking Femi who was bankrolling his recent trips around Nigeria?
Rather than humbly provide answer to the question posed by Eyo Charles, Fani-Kayode got provocked, arrogantly terming himself ” a former minister and a lawyer”, distastefully condescending, calling the reporter with all sort of ugly names. To the best of my knowledge, lawyers are very mindful of their utterances because of their much acquaintance with the Law of Defamation and the punishment a slanderous statements attract, as by law established. But Fani-Kayode went to the extent of calling the reporter “a stupid”; an insult that provocks an English man to the core. This made me to doubt if Femi has been successful called to the Nigerian bar as a full-blown lawyer.
Ministers as well are know to be people with proper cognitive ability, respect and polite behavior, especially towards journalists as they interact almost always. how and why Femi is in bad shape? This is a slap to legal profession and ministerial position, because I could not notice a flicker of professionalism in his mannerisms.
He said he had been granting interviews in press conferences for a number of years. But, surprisingly he found the question by the journalist so hot that prompted him to arrogantly ask ” what type of offensive question is this?” Journalism as the act of gathering, verifying and reporting accurate and objective account of events by media organisations with the sole aim of satisfying the curiousity and inquisitiveness of their audience, must always come with critical questions on behalf, and in the best interest of the general public. This is the only way the gap of communication between the higher and lower class can be bridged. For that, therefore, Femi Fani-Kayode should not have been provocked, since according to him he has been intermingling with journalists over time.
The threat by Femi to report the reporter to his publisher made me to have an amazing smile; does he think Dailytrust can be intimidated to compromise its policy? I know very well that Dailytrust, being one of the reputable papers in Nigeria, does not accept anything below standard, neither does it employ quacks as reporters.Oye Charles (the reporter), therefore, must have asked the question out of his passion to satisfy the curiosity of Nigerians including myself who have been Keen to know the ground on which Femi has been going round Nigeria. I’m happy that later on the Management of Media Trust Limited, publishers of Dailytrust and other tittles, in a statement signed by its Executive Director/Editor-in-chief, Nazir Mika’ilu Abubakar, boldly condemned the action of Fani-Kayode and made its stand clear in solidarity with its reporter and even describing him as somebody who upholds the tenet of journalism. This shall, without doubt, motivate Charles and other reporters to stay firmly brave to ask relevant questions in the course of their work, no matter the thread out of shame as exhibited by the ex-minister. It will also earn more credibility to the paper rather than putting it to disgrace as intended by barrister Femi.
Describing the journalist as having a “small mind” also left me floundering, because one of our lectures used to tell us that journalism is meant for chosen few people who think deep with sharp mind. How do I intergrete the two contradictory statements? Beside, a reputable print media like Daily trust, with all the credibility and popularity it enjoys, how would it in all conscience accept a reporter with a small mind? I did not take time to ask myself between somebody who asked a question and another who insulted, who is having a small?
Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode in his rainstorm of attacks on the journalist said he was unlike the politicians the reporter follows for brown envelope. This is serious, I wished he had provided us with the names of those politicians that he said are giving brown envelope to the reporter, so that the Nigerian Union of Journalists would keep them under surveillance and warn its members to be careful of them. By making allegation without corroborating evidence, all Nigerian politicians are not suspects. To avoid that, when next Femi is making such a statement, he should, please, make sure he is in full possession of his evidences and he should not mince words.
The threat by Fani-Kayode to hit the reporter hard, I think, is not something as a writer i should dwell much into, as it has to do with the job security agencies are obligated. In short security agents are highly agitate; I may not be expert in that aspect, but I think the DSS needs to invite Femi just like it did to Doctor Mailafia a couple of weeks ago, to answer some questions. In 2019 alone, within six months, 36 journalists were attacked physically. This is not something that security agents should approach with a lackadaisical attitude, and if anything happens to the reporter, Fani-Kayode must be help responsible
Consequently, I’m happy that Femi in a portion of the video clip asked “do you know the person you are talking to?”. I need no bother, the attitude exhibited by him reflected his personality, translated the person he is.
Maijama’a writes frinthe Faculty of Communication, BUK, and can be reached through: firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Sky Daily