It is with an urgent sense of responsibility that the Online Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria, OMPAN, in Cross River condemns in its entirety the show of disdain, harrassment and intimidation against the noble profession of journalism as demonstrated by Femi Fani-Kayode a former minister of aviation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
As practitioners, we call on Fani-Kayode to immediately retract his statements and tender a public apology for his undue intimidation, harassment, and attack on Daily Trust journalist, Mr. Eyo Charles who only opted to hold him accountable for his recent actions by asking him a simple question —’who is bankrolling you?’.
OMPAN makes it clear that Journalism is unique in its practice to the extent to which the code of practice allows for the kind of questions posed before the former minister by journalist Eyo Charles.
Again, OMPAN regrets to note that Fani-Kayode who himself is a known critic of public officers, institutions including the present All Progressives Congress-led federal government does not have the turf to handle critical disposition. It is hypocritical for Fani-Kayode to advocate for free press but attempt to intimidate a journalist holding him accountable to a set of ideals. FFK could have easily avoided the question or address himself to it simply.
We are compelled to believe that the assailant Fani-Kayode in failing to address journalist Eyo Charles’ poser was deliberately dodging such a critical question by throwing tantrums and by extension suggests that there are shadow figures bank-rolling his recent trips of assessing states in Nigeria’s south southern geopolitical zone under no known platform.
Again, OMPAN frowns at members of Correspondents Chapel of the NUJ in Cross River present at the said press briefing who, instead of stand up to the unbecoming Fani-Kayode in support of their hapless colleague were seen in the video footage and heard to be lambasting Eyo Charles for his apt question to FFK.
The media’s role as a public watchdog in imparting information of serious public concern should be greatly respected and should not be inhibited or intimidated from playing that role.
OMPAN therefore demands an unreserved apology from Mr. Femi Fani Kayode to journalist Eyo Charles, and the Daily Trust while charging colleagues of Charles and other journalists to always stand by the ideals of the profession despite the temptation to do otherwise.
Online Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria, Cross River State
26 August 2020.