The entire South-East geo-political zone of Nigeria was thrown in panic on Wednesday by propaganda of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) that a Nigerian Army Medical outreach in Ozubulu, Ekwusigo LGA of Anambra State was a ploy to inoculate school children with Monkey pox disease.
It was gathered that shortly after the Army started the medical outreach in Ozubulu on Wednesday, news spread like wildfire that soldiers were inoculating people with small pox disease, forcing people to scamper for safety.
School children abandoned their classrooms and ran away from the school premises on hearing that soldiers were coming to inject them with the disease.
It was gathered that some school children scaled the fences of their schools in their bid to escape.
The incident caused pandemonium in Ozubulu, a town that witnessed one of the most gruesome killings in the history of the country on August 6 this year when gunmen invaded St Philip’s Catholic Church Ofufe Amakwa and killed 11 persons.
The scars of the incident were still visible in the community when the outreach incident occurred on Wednesday.
A source told Bellng. that the Nigerian Army chose the community for the outreach as a way of reassuring the people of their safety but the proscribed group took advantage of it to create more fear in the lives of the people.
An indigene of Ozubulu told this online media that the people actually turned up at the designated centres for the outreach and they received various medical services from the army free of charge.
“There was announcement and people came out. We were told to obtain cards with just N500 and we received eye treatment and malaria therapy without paying any money. People checked their sugar levels and blood pressure. When people saw it was free, they called others. So, there was rush and the army stopped issuing cards.
“But in the ensuing milieu, the IPOB people who earlier called for boycott of the exercise spread news that the soldiers want to inject children with monkey pox. Children started running away from school. There was commotion everywhere as the rumour spread” our source said.
Although the outreach held successfully at designated centres in Ozubulu, the rumour of the invading soldiers spread like wildfire to other parts of the state including Onitsha, Nnewi, Ekwuluobia and Awka, causing schools to shutdown and parents asked to take their children home.
Aided by the social media, the propaganda by IPOB spread to other states of the South-East, including Imo and Enugu State.
As a result of the rumour, there was pandemonium in major cities in the affected states including the state capitals, Enugu, Owerri and Abakiliki, as parents rushed to take their children from school to stop the army from injecting them with Monkey pox.
Commissioner of Health in Anambra State, Joseph Akabuike who hurried to Ozubulu with other government officials because of the rumour, however debunked the monkey pox inoculation rumour, saying all the instruments used by the army for the outreach were safe.