Nigeria’s former Aviation minister has apologised for verbally assaulting a Daily Trust reporter, Eyo Charles, who asked him a question at a press conference in Calabar, Cross River State.
The ex-minister apology may not be unconnected to calls by Nigerians including bodies like the Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ), Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Transparency International, Daily Trust Media limited publisher of Daily Trust Newspaper, among others that condemned his action and asked the minister to retract his statement and publicly apologised to the journalist.
They described Fani-Kayode’s action against the journalist as the attribute of an intolerant and unstable person that does not want his activities closely scrutinised by the media and demanded that the ex-minister publicly apologise to the reporter.
NUJ, SERAP and others reaction came after a video emanated on Tuesday showing the former minister, who began a tour of some Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) states in July, visited Cross River recently, flew into a rage shortly after Eyo asked him a question on his visit.
But, Fani-Kayode who tendered his apology on Wednesday morning as against his earlier stance, regretted that he lost his patience during his encounter with the journalist and that such action does not portray his true character.
Through a post on his social media page, the former minister clarified that he never threatened to physically or by proxy harm the journalist.
“I met with my advisors & 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 & 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 & fought for the right of freedom of exiression. I am also very close to many in that profession. I would be the last to seek to disparage those that are honorable and noble within its ranks.
“I hope that this will assuage the pain and anger of anyone that was hurt or offended by this ugly episode. I have now put this matter behind me and moved on. Now my tour of the South continues. Moving to another state today!” he wrote.