The management of Media Trust Limited, publishers of Daily Trust and other titles, has alerted the police over a threat by a former Nigerian aviation minister, Femi Fani Kayode on its reporter in Cross River State, Eyo Charles, for asking a question Fani Kayode considered offensive.
In a statement today, August 25, signed by the company’s Executive Director, Editor-In-Chief, Naziru Mikailu Abubakar, the management asked the Nigeria Police to take note that if anything happens to Charles, “Daily Trust will hold Fani-Kayode responsible, especially due to the intensity of the verbal threats he issued during the shocking incident.”
The Daily Trust, which described actions of Fani-Kayode as reprehensible, constituting a setback to press freedom, in a most dire form, said that this kind of assault raises major concerns over the safety of journalists in Nigeria.
“Daily Trust is a completely independent media organisation that does not pander to the whims of any individual or group, no matter how powerful or well-placed in society. We will continue to serve Nigerians – and indeed the world – with quality, reliable reportage, no matter whose ox is gored.”
The statement recalled how Fani Kayode, in a video clip that had gone viral, verbally assaulted the reporter repeatedly for asking him who was bankrolling his recent trips around Nigeria, “to which the ex-minister responded with a raised voice, insults, and eventually a threat to inflict bodily harm on our reporter.
“The barrage continued for some minutes, while bewildered journalists, including our reporter, looked on.”
The management insisted that the question asked by Charles was totally devoid of mischief, adding that it simply sought clarification and information, like good journalism should.
“Said editing paved the way for a social media lynch mob to rain expletives on our reporter, labelling him as ‘rude’. “This could not be further away from the truth, and we stand by Charles, and commend him for his calmness during the ordeal.
“Daily Trust reporters are responsible professionals, who uphold the tenets of journalism, as well as best practices.
“That Fani-Kayode attacks a reporter doing his job, is an indication of the chilling disregard he has towards the media, and its work in investigating and reporting on issues. As always, we stand in solidarity with our reporters, and will continue to fight for the rights of all journalists. After all, journalism is part of the bedrock of democracy; therefore practitioners must not be intimidated or threatened as they carry out their work.