Parents and guardians withdraw their children following rumours that the Nigerian Army was conducting immunisation as part of its ongoing Operation Crocodile Smile II in the Niger Delta.
The parents, whose actions created panic in Yenagoa, the state capital, were reportedly told that some persons in military uniform were injecting their children with ‘’poison’’ under the guise of vaccination for monkeypox virus.
Some schools were said to have closed as early as 10 am, with children running in different directions to leave their school premises, prior to the arrival of immunisation officials.
A resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was panic in his Onopa community in Yenagoa as some unidentified men in military uniforms, stormed schools in the area to inject children with an unknown vaccine.
Also, another resident, who gave his name only as Robert, claimed some women at Captain Ayeni Street were seen taking their children away from schools to prevent them from receiving the vaccine.
It was learnt that some parents also besieged St. Jude Secondary School in Amarata, saying they were there to take their children home.
The parents, who reportedly met the gate of the school locked, reportedly waited outside and called on the school management to release their children.
It was gathered that seven people, five males, and two females, escaped lynching by a whisker at Zarama in Yenagoa, as a mob accosted them, following the suspicion that they were immunisation workers.
The mob reportedly beat them up and dragged them to their community leader, despite appeals by the victims that they were in the village to promote a brand of beer.
The mob stripped the suspects and threatened to lynch them before some persons contacted the police, who came to their rescue.
Subsequently, the state government issued a statement, suspending all forms of medical outreach in public and private schools across the state following the incident.
The Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, announced the suspension at a joint press briefing with his counterpart in the Ministry of Health, Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu.
Iworiso-Markson described as unfortunate the misinformation which had led to the panic and withdrawal of pupils by parents from schools, insisting that the fears had no basis.
Etebu described the rumour as unhealthy.
Spokesperson for the 16 Brigade of the Nigerian Army in Yenagoa, Captain Danjuma Danjuma, said that there was no truth in the rumours that the army was carrying out immunisation in schools as part of its ongoing operation in the Niger Delta.
“The Brigade is not conducting vaccination in any school in Bayelsa. The reports are rumours peddled by mischief makers. There is no evidence to prove this allegation. It is rather unfortunate,” Danjuma stated.
Meanwhile, the Registrar, Veterinary Council of Nigeria, Dr. Kantiyok Joshua; the outgoing Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin, Prof. Abdulganiyu Ambali; and the Chairman, Kwara State Chapter of Nigeria Veterinary Medical Association, Dr. Ibrahim Abdul, have said that scientists in Nigeria have commenced research for vaccines or drugs to address monkeypox.
Source: ( Punch Newspaper )