Femi Fani-Kayode, a former minister of aviation, has told the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) that he supports freedom of speech but will not accept insults in the name of journalism.
Fani-Kayode made this known in a statement on Tuesday in reaction to the NUJ’s comments over his outburst and sharp criticism of a journalist.
The former minister had verbally attacked Eyo Charles, a journalist with the Daily Trust, who asked him a question at a press conference in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, last week.
Eyo had asked Fani-Kayode if his recent trips were being bankrolled, a question which made the ex-minister furious and immediately tongue-lashed the former.
The NUJ, the body for journalists in Nigeria, condemned Fani-Kayode, describing him as being intolerant to scrutiny by the media, as well as being unstable.
But reacting, the former minister said while he remains a friend to journalists, he will not accept questions asked in a manner to embarrass him.
He stated that the NUJ did not hear his own side of the story before issuing their statement, adding that the body ought to investigate Eyo and uncover whoever sent the journalist who sent the question.
He also debunked a claim by the newspaper that he sent security operatives to threaten Eyo, saying he only reprimanded him.
The statement read: “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.
“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.”