Monkey pox: Rivers schools deserted over immunization scare


*Army debunks rumour
*APC says immunization scare orchestrated by Wike
Amaka Agbu, Port Harcourt

Fear, pandemonium held sway in public schools in Rivers State on Tuesday as parents stormed the state primary and secondary schools to pick their children and wards over rumours that the army was forcefully injecting Monkey pox virus into the pupils in the guise of immunization.

Anxious parents were seen running helter skelter at the State Primary Schools in Rumuosi, Okoro-Nu-Odo, Elekenia, Diobu, Igwuruta and others picking their children and leaving the schools deserted.

Some of the parents who were reluctant to give their names said they were reliably informed that the immunization was part of the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army’s Operation Crocodile Smile ll that has kicked off in the Niger Delta.

The parents forced their ways into the schools through the gates and some through the fences of the public and primary schools to forcefully take their children home in spite of the pleas from teachers and other staff of the schools trying to dispel the rumours.

Worried by the rumour that caused the panic, the state Commissioner for Education in Rivers State, Hon. Tamunosisi Gogo-Jaja, visited over 15 schools to persuade the panic-stricken parents that all they heard were mere rumour.
Having failed to convince the parents, the commissioner headed for the Radio studios of Niger Info FM 92.3 in Port Harcourt, capital city of Rivers State, to dissuade parents from withdrawing their children from the schools.

The Commissioner stated: “When I got to the schools to see the so-called Soldiers who were allledly immunising our children without the knowledge of the Rivers state government shockingly I saw none.

“In the schools I visited, where they alleged soldiers visited the Headmasters of those schools who stated clearly that there was no immunization by army in any of the schools. It has been baseless and dangerous rumour aimed as causing panic. If the panic is not well handled, some kidnappers may cash on the confusion and pick other people’s children,” the commissioner said.

Hon. Tamunosisi Gogo-Jaja advised parents not to withdraw their children and wards from schools because there was no immunization by the army and nothing like that could happen without the permission of the state government.
In his statement on the scare, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications said that the state government the state goverment has not permitted the Army to carry out any immunization

Speaking also, the spokesman of 6 Division of Nigerian Army, Colonel Aminu Illyiasu has debunked the rumour, saying that though they had medical outreach planned as part of their operation, but they had not started, adding that the only thing the Army had done was donation of text books to selected schools.

Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress, APC, Rivers State Chapter, has expressed dismay at the rumour the Nigerian Army vaccine scare that was promoted on radio and social media earlier on Tuesday by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Barr. Emma Okah.

A statement by the Publicity Secretary of the APC in the state, Mr. Chris Finebone said that the rumour was part of a well-articulated strategy by the Governor Wike-led Rivers State Government to ridicule, humiliate, intimidate and demoralise the Nigerian Army, SARS and other security agencies ahead of the 2019 elections.

The APC said it found it “appalling that the Rivers State Government led by Gov. Nyesom Wike would concoct outright lies and falsehood just to score cheap political points by denigrating our respected men and women of the uniformed and other security services who place their lives on the line every other day to keep Nigerians safe. This is the worst form of ingratitude that a government can openly organise against an important set of citizens who lose their limbs and in some cases lose their lives for the rest of us.

Photos of Fleeing students:

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