A journalist with Daily Trust newspaper, Eyo Charles, has shed more light into what transpired during a press briefing with a former Minister of Aviation in Nigeria, Femi Fani-Kayode.
In a viral video, Fani-Kayode, who recently took a tour of some South-South and South-East states, described the journalist as ‘very stupid’ for asking who was bankrolling his trip.
Reacting via a statement, Fani-Kayode said he had no apology to offer, insisting that the journalist’s comment was insulting.
However, in a statement on Tuesday, the reporter gave a full account of what transpired during the media briefing.
Charles said the former minister sent one of his security aides to further threaten him after the press conference.
He said, “It took the intervention and pleas from Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ayade, Mr Christian Ita, and other journalists before the ex-minister would leave the Daily Trust reporter, saying, ‘You can go ahead and write your rubbish. I have marked you’.
“When he returned to his suite, he sent one of his security aides to further threaten me. The man accosted me, saying what effrontery did I have to ask such a stupid question, and what was my next action.
“Sensing how tensed up the atmosphere was, I said to the man, ‘I had apologised to the ex-minister. If the usage of the word ‘bankroll’ was offensive to him, then I withdraw it. What more should I do?’ I then sneaked away.
“Now the ex-minister is circulating a doctored video, claiming I was rude to him. What could be farther from the truth! I have a modest background and well trained as a high priest to respect people of all standing. Please note, too, that I am a bishop in the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star, which exalted stand can never allow me to descend to insulting public figures or anyone.
“This is also to colleagues that have called to express unhappiness that I did not ‘give it back to FKK.”
He said Fani-Kayode had given the go-ahead to be asked any questions, but when it came to that on the “bankrolling”, he lost his cool.
Charles added, “Time for question, Christian Ita moderated. But Olanrewaju interjected and sought permission from the ex-minister that questions be limited to what FKK had said. But FKK himself said there was no problem at all. That we should ask any manner of question.
Many asked questions. Gill Nsa of The Nation, for instance, asked whether his national tour had any political undertone such as having presidential ambition. A reporter from the state-owned TV asked whether some of the 33 projects he said Ayade had embarked upon, such as the 278km superhighway from Bakassi to the border of Benue State as well as the deep sea port were not, in fact, white elephant projects.
“FKK disagreed strongly and said what Ayade needs is the federal government to take over the projects and that Nigerians would see that the superhighway for instance will boost trade and integrated Nigerians.
“Now the question that would break the camel’s back! When I was recognised, I asked, “Sir, please you did not disclose to us who is bankrolling you….” FFK did not allow me to land with the question when he threw caution to the wind and shouted at me, and said the press briefing was over.
“He then rained terrible abuses on me, calling me unprintable names; that I was sponsored to come and ask and insult him.”