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Nigerian officials set up hot lines to counter rumor scares

April 19, 2013 at 12:06 PM

YENAGOA, Nigeria, April 19 (UPI) -- The Nigerian state of Bayelsa is defending its decision to set up hot lines to deal with "rumor-mongors" after false reports of a coup created "pandemonium."

Problems started after the reports last month, officials said.

In a series of advertisements, officials urge people to "Say no to rumor-mongers," the BBC reported Thursday.

Spokesman Daniel Iworiso-Markson said the campaign was created after reports spread in early March that the Supreme Court had sacked state government officials and government headquarters had been taken over by "military men."

Iworiso-Markson said he had dismissed the reports, "but back home it was so intense, it was so real, to the point that it was almost causing some kind of pandemonium and chaos and we felt this was one rumor taken too far."

A committee comprised of journalists and public relations managers was created to respond to the false reports and "educate and enlighten people," he said.

Calls to the hot lines have even come from various places, even "far flung areas," the spokesman said.

Committee secretary John Idumange said calls have covered "a huge range of issues," including whether a particular tax was legitimate and if militants had been granted amnesty.

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