Panic and anxiety, yesterday, enveloped Akure, the Ondo State capital and Port Harcourt, Rivers State over rumours of killer innoculation by some unidentified persons in Army uniform, as parents rushed to withdraw their children from schools before the official closing hours.
The wild rumour of the deadly Monkeypox virus immunisation came barely a week after a similar stampede was witnessed in some parts of the South East and Delta State.
As early as 9am, tension and anxiety had gripped many parts of Akure township over allegation that soldiers numbering about 20 had invaded some schools in Ore, headquarters of Odigbo Local Government Area and were administering vaccines on some school children. In fact, no fewer than three of the children were said to have died following their injection.
However, it was discovered that the rumour, which also went viral on the social media, was unfounded as visits to most of the schools in Akure and neighbouring towns of Oba-Ile, Ilaramokin and Ifon showed that no soldier was in any of the schools for any purpose.
Notwithstanding, anxious parents stormed many of the public and private schools to withdraw their children, a development which caused chaos at Fiwasaye High School located at Alagbaka area of the Akure metropolis.
But the 32 Artillery Brigade of Nigerian Army, Akure debunked the rumours of harmful vaccination being conducted by some people believed to be soldiers in Ondo State.
The Public Relations Officer, Major Ojo Adelegan, in a statement, urged the public to consider the rumour as handiwork of detractors, as he urged the public to provide useful information on any person or group behind the malicious information against the military.
“There was nothing like that. No officer administered vaccine on any child in any part of the state. It was a mere rumour, which only exists in the minds of those peddling it. There is no ongoing medical outreach in Ondo State. The information is the hand work of mischief makers and should be treated as such,’’ he said.
A panic pupil of Port Harcourt City
Also, the Ondo State government, in a statement issued by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Yemi Olowolabi, described the rumour as baseless and unfounded.
Similarly, in Rivers State, rumour was rife that deadly vaccines were being injected on school children by personnel of the 6 Division, Nigerian Army.