Pandemonium broke out across Rivers and Ondo States, yesterday, as parents trooped to schools in search of their children and wards, following reports of forced anti-Monkey Pox immunisation.
The same rumour that caused uproar in all states of the South-East, penultimate week, spread in Rivers and Ondo, and forced all academic activities to be disrupted. The rumour had it that the military is vaccinating students with Monkey pox virus.
The panic was ignited by unknown sources in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state, especially, in schools around Nkpolu, Rumuagholu, Rumuosi, Rumuekini and Rumuokoro areas. The news later spread to other parts of state as parents and guardians raced to schools to pick their wards, causing classrooms to be emptied before official closing hour.
Unconfirmed report had it that the Nigerian Army had in the cause of their operation Crocodile Smile II, initiated a health outreach to give vaccines to students against the outbreak of Monkey pox is some parts of the country. The rumour of the vaccination caused pandemonium leading the military top hierarchy to clarify that the health programme has not started.
In Ondo state, parents were seen in their thousands, hurrying home with their wards along the major roads in Akure, lkare, Ondo and Owo, Even wards in boarding schools were forcefully taken home by their parents, following the development. Several schools across the state were under lock and key yesterday.
Meanwhile, the 6 Division Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt has dismissed the rumours of Monkey pox vaccination in the state. Spokesman of 6 Division, Col Aminu Ilyasu, in a statement released in the hit of the panic by parents and guardians in the state over safety of their children said the army had a proposed plan for medical outreach and sanitation exercise in some communities under 6 Division but it had not started it.
The statement further assured families that it would not commence the exercise without proper sensitization of communities and relating with necessary organs in the various areas. The army described those behind the rumour that caused tension and panic in several schools in the state as enemies of the state.
Also, the Assistant Director Army Public Relations, 32 Artillery Brigade, Major Ojo Adenegan, described the report that soldiers were giving poisonous vaccine to children and students of primary and secondary schools in Ondo State as fake.
According to him, “we are using this medium to inform the general public to disregard such information. There is no ongoing medical outreach in Ondo State. “We also appeal to the general public to help give useful information on any person or group of persons who are behind this malicious information against the military.”