By Magnus Effiong
The Cross River State Council of the Nigeria Union Journalists (NUJ) has reacted angrily over a verbal assault on the Correspondent of Daily Trust Newspaper in the State, Eyo Charles, by a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode during a press conference in Calabar last week.
The Union accordingly blacklisted Chief Fani Kayode and also resolved to boycott all activities organized by the Cross River government, saying the Calabar-based administration provided the platform for the former minister to commit the assault.
The decision of the Union to weigh the big stick was contained in a communiqué signed by the Chairman of the State Council, Comrade Victor Udu, Secretary, Comrade Oka Ibor and the Chairman of the Communiqué Drafting Committee, Richard Ndoma, and issued at the end of its emergency congress which took place on Thursday evening with the leadership of all the Chapels in attendance.
The Union also proscribed the Government House Press Corps and stopped all illegal press conferences.
The Communique read in part: “Congress condemns the verbal insult and abuse from Femi Fani Kayode and noted that such words could only come out of the lips of a frustrated, immature, bankrupt, irresponsible and unsteady mind and accordingly blacklisted the former Minister of Aviation from all media activities in the State.
“Congress further blacklists the Government of Cross River State from any media coverage by all members of Nigeria Union of Journalist in the State for organizing an illegal press conference thereby creating a platform for Femi Fani Kayode to abuse and insult a journalist, Mr. Eyo Charles of the Daily Trust Newspaper.
“It mandated the State Council to immediately communicate in writing to all media organisations to withdraw their correspondents from Government House and stop them from covering or reporting any activity of the State Government until the issue is resolved. In line with NEC resolution on the proscription of beats, Congress directs the immediate proscription of the illegally operated Cross River State Government House Press Corps.
“Congress restates its total support for and stands with the Daily Trust Correspondent, Eyo Charles on the question that resulted to the unprovoked outburst.
“Congress also directs the State Council to issue warning letters to members who attended the press conference and did not do anything to protect their colleague after which each of them is to individually write an apology letter through the State Council to the National Leadership of the Union with a firm promise never to violate the rules and regulations guiding the Journalism practice.
“Congress hereby resolves that henceforth all press briefings by any individual(s), public or private organizations must be held at the NUJ Press Centre, unless as may be directed by the State Council. It warned that any journalist that organizes or attends any press briefing not approved by the State Council shall be sanctioned.
“Congress hereby thanks the National leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Management of Daily Trust Newspaper, Civil Societies, Community Based and Faith-based Organisations, religious leaders, members of local and international organisations, groups and individuals for defending the truth.”
Recall that the video footage, uploaded by the former Minister himself, which had gone viral since Tuesday had attracted condemnations from national and international press organizations, groups and individuals. As at press time, the NUJ in Akwa Ibom state has also boycotted Chief Fani Kayode activities during his ongoing visit to the State