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MONKEY POX SCARE: PARENTS WITHDRAW KIDS FROM SCHOOL OVER FREE ARMY MEDICAL TREATMENT – ARMY REACTS

HEALTH & NUTRITION NEWS 113

Panic-stricken parents and guardians thronged primary and secondary schools in the South-East states on Wednesday to pick-up their wards following the rumour that the Nigerian Army was injecting viruses into school children .

Correspondents of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abia, Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi gathered that the development was triggered by a false report published by an online medium.

The report alleged that the Nigerian Army was forcefully vaccinating pupils against the Monkey pox disease through its medical outreach and advised parents to immediately evacuate their children.

Mrs Bridget Eneh, the Headmistress of Victory Group of Schools, Abakaliki, told NAN that she was shocked to see parents throng her school to pick their wards.

“I read an online post that the army was forcefully vaccinating pupils against the Monkeypox disease, with an advice that parents should immediately evacuate their children.

“I decided to convene an emergency management meeting; but before this could be done, parents had besieged the school and forcefully left with their children,” she said.

Mrs Uchechukwu Ojigwe, another School Headmistress, told NAN that all efforts to assuage the fears of the parents, fell on deaf ears.

“I tried to explain to them that some security personnel had visited our school to ensure there was no pandemonium but they would not listen to me.

“A parent even accused me of supporting the army’s plans to kill children and I find this accusation outrageous and unbelievable,” she said.

Mr Nachor Ukonna, a civil servant and parent, who said that he also had to take his child from the school, advised relevant authorities to expeditiously review the dissemination of information on the social media.

“This sort of information can lead to stampede in schools with calamitous consequences,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, Prof. John Ekeh, the Ebonyi Commissioner for Education, said that the news of forceful vaccination was false and urged parents and teachers to disregard such information.

ARMY DISMISS FALSE REPORT – SAYS IT’S SILLY AND MISCHIEVOUS

The Nigerian Army and the Police on Wednesday dismissed as false social media reports of monkey pox vaccination of students in Anambra.

In a statement signed by Col. Sagir Musa, Deputy Director Public Relations, 82 Division Enugu, the army described the social media publication as “silly and mischievous.”

“The attention of the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to a silly and mischievous publication now trending in the social media.

“The publication alleged that the free medical services given to some communities in the South-East are with a sinister motive of depopulating the region through the so-called monkey pox vaccination.

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“The Division wishes to make it clear that the free medical outreach is not a vaccine intended to infect monkey pox or any major contemporary or emerging diseases in Nigeria to the people of South-East or any part of the country.

“The exercise is part of the corporate social responsibility initiatives imbued into the overall Exercise EGWU EKE II package for the people of the South-East region.

“It is the area of responsibility of the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army and is also the Theatre of the Exercise,” Musa said.

He said the free medical services in the region started on Sept. 18 in Nkwa-agu community of Abakaliki Local Government Area of Ebonyi,”

“At the event, the Deputy Governor of Ebonyi, the Chairman of the Local Government and some traditional rulers were there at the flag-off of the exercise by the Chief of Army Staff Lt.-Gen. TY Buratai.”

According to him, other areas where the programme was conducted were Ovim in Isoukwato Local Government Area of Abia, Mbaise in Imo, Orji River in Enugu and now Ozubulu in Anambra.

“In all the mentioned areas, there has not been any recorded incident or complain of any kind arising from the noble humanitarian gesture of the Nigerian Army.

“The wicked, ill-motivated rumour or lies are the handiwork of unpatriotic elements who can go to any length to discredit the noble services of the Nigerian Army in the region, which at the moment they will not succeed,” he stressed.

Similarly, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, Mrs Nkeiruka Nwode, has also urged the public to regard the social media report as false.

“The Anambra State Police Command wishes to inform the general public that the rumour and the story being spread in the social media is false.

“It is pertinent to note that it is a routine medical outreach by the military.

“It is difficult to understand what the people who spread such false story will gain.

“The police see the social media reports as an attempt to truncate the peace being enjoyed by the people of the state.

“However, the command wishes to assure the general public of their safety at all times and to disregard such story, debunk it as hard as they could,” Nkeiruka, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the false social media report had caused panic resulting in many schools closing for the day while parents rushed to pick their children.

The one-day free medical exercise which was a yearly exercise by the Nigerian Army is aimed at strengthening relations with the civilians.

Ogaga Onokwakpor

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