The Nigerian Army, 32 Artillery Brigade in Akure, Ondo State has said it would fish out and sanction those who spread rumours of an alleged planned vaccination of school children against monkeypox by soldiers.
The command said it would arrest those who spread the “wicked and fake” rumour in the state on Tuesday.
School activities were cut short on Tuesday after rumours filtered into town that the army was injecting students with the monkeypox virus.
Parents immediately stormed the schools and withdrew their children as panic spread from one school to the other. By Wednesday, some of the schools were yet to resume normal academic activities despite the state government’s rebuttal of the vaccination rumour.
The Army Public Relations Officer, Ojo Adelegan, told PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday that the army was not conducting any medical outreach in the state. “There was nothing of such, the army did not carry out a medical outreach,” Mr. Adelegan, an army Major, said.
“We are glad that today, the students have returned to their school to continue their academic activities. We have also said they should disregard any fake information on the vaccination exercise. We are also putting a machinery in place to apprehend those involved in the spread of the information, once we get them, they will face the music. “We are asking for information on those spreading the rumour and we will ensure they are arrested,” he said.
Mr. Adelegan said the army would continue to carry out its constitutional duties of providing security for citizens. Apart from Ondo, similar rumours have also led to panic withdrawal of pupils from schools in Yobe, Anambra, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, and Kwara states. Officials in those states have also refuted the rumour of such vaccination.
In Kwara, a statement by the Special Adviser on Security to the Governor, Amusa Bello, said there was no iota of truth to the claim. “The State Government calls on parents and guardians not to panic and to refrain from withdrawing their wards from schools based on this unfounded rumour,” he said.
Suspected monkeypox cases have been reported in 11 states with only three cases in Bayelsa confirmed. The disease has no known vaccine.