There was panic and confusion in primary and secondary schools in Port Harcourt this morning when parents and guardians stormed the schools to withdraw their children following rumours that the Nigerian Army plans to forcefully inject the children with Monkeypox virus.
All the public primary schools in Rumuosi, Okoro-Nu-Odo, Elekenia, Diobu, Igwuruta and others were deserted after parents withdrew their wards.
The rumour has it that the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army in its Operation Crocodile Smile ll in the Niger Delta plans inject schoolchildren with Monkeypox.
Some parents scaled the fence to withdraw their children from schools.
Following the rumour, the state Commissioner for Education, Tamunosisi Gogo-Jaja visited over 15 schools to persuade the panic-stricken parents that all they heard were mere rumour before heading for the Radio studios of Infofm 92.3 in Port Harcourt to make a broadcast.
According to the Commissioner, “When I got to the schools to see the so-called soldiers who were allegedly immunising our children without the knowledge of the Rivers state government, shockingly I saw none.
“In the schools I visited, the Headmasters of those schools stated clearly that there was no immunization by the army in any of the schools. The rumour is baseless and a dangerous rumour aimed as causing panic. If the panic is not well handled, some kidnappers may cash in on the confusion and pick other people’s children”.
He advised parents not to withdraw their children and wards from schools because there is no immunization by the army and nothing like that can happen without the permission of the state government.
Meanwhille, Emma Okah, the Commissioner for Information and Communications, said the state government has not permitted the Army to carry out any immunization.
The spokesman of 6 Division of Nigerian Army, Colonel Aminu Illyiasu debunked the rumour, saying though the army planned medical outreach as part of the operation, it has not started.
He explained that the Army only has textbooks to donate to selected schools in state.