Rumours of Nigerian president abandoning office slammed

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Nigeria’s federal government Tuesday denied local and international media reports that President Umaru Yar’Adua plans to resign on health grounds after making changes in his cabinet.

The report was credited to the state-run News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) which, however, slammed it as a hoax which did not emanate from it.

”Following inquiries that came in the wake of a report purportedly issued by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) today, the Presidency wishes to affirm that there is no truth whatsoever to the suggestion that President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua is contemplating resignation from office,” presidential spokesman Olusegun Adeniyi said in a statement in the capital city of Abuja.

”Since NAN itself has categorically denied being the source of the report that the President may resign, it can only be assumed that the report is the handiwork of persons who do not wish the country well.

”For the avoidance of any doubt whatsoever, President Yar’Adua has no intention of abandoning the mandate given to him to lead Nigeria further along the path to restoration, growth and development. He will therefore continue to discharge his responsibilities to the best of his abilities,” the spokesman said.

NAN’s Managing Director Oluremi Oyo said that the report did not come from the agency. Several top editors of the agency interviewed also dismissed the report as a hoax.

It was the second time such a hoax involving the President would be credited to NAN, indicating that some individuals either within the agency or with links to it are bent on embarrassing the reformist NAN boss, who has pushed through some tough but positive changes in the 30-year-old agency and helped raised its visibility.

An international news agency ran with the purported NAN story without clearing from NAN or speaking to the presidential spokesman.

Meanwhile, the privately-owned Channels Television may have been shut in the wake of the story, which the station continuously carried in its bulletins Tuesday.

Reports indicated that the news Channel might have got into trouble for continuing with the story of the President’s resignation to NAN, even after the agency had issued a disclaimer.

The station was uncharacteristically off the air Tuesday evening, and sources confirmed that its offices in the commercial city of Lagos as well as Abuja were sealed off.

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