INJECTION SCARE! Pupils Desert Schools In Asaba, Other Towns In Delta

BY ANDY AKENI/Sunday Egede/
SUNNY DAVID
Some public and private primary and secondary schools in Asaba, Agbor, Ogwashi-Uku and other parts of Delta State were deserted before midday yesterday as the rumour of strange people injecting pupils and students to death in schools in the state went viral on social media.
This falsehood caused panic among parents and guardians in the state, whose children and wards had earlier gone to their respective schools as they besieged the premises of their children and wards’ schools to withdraw them home.
As a result of the heightened tension caused by the rumour, authorities of some of the schools, particularly private schools, had to call parents and guardians of their pupils and students to come and take their children and wards home since they could no longer guarantee the security of the pupils and students under such a tensed atmosphere.
In some of the schools in the state, teachers were not left out of the protracted panic as they, too, fled their respective schools to ostensibly escape from being attacked by the people allegedly injecting pupils and students to death.
At Uzoigwe Primary School and Asagba Mixed Secondary School, both in Asaba, panic-stricken parents and guardians were seen making frantic efforts to evacuate their children and wards from the school as if there was Armageddon.
Tricycle operators in Asaba made brisk business as some parents and guardians, in a desperate mood to take their children and wards home, engaged them (tricycle operators) for their services at a fee much higher than they would have paid for certain distance under normal situations.
Reacting to the incidence, the state Commissioner for Information in a press statement made available to newsmen, debunked the rumour, saying, that it “is absolutely false and baseless. There has been no such reported incident in any school in Delta State. We advise parents and guardians to remain calm and go about their normal businesses.”
The statement urged all school heads to take appropriate measures to secure their schools and ensure that students and pupils are properly accounted for until the close of school every day. In the same token, the state government is, by this announcement, calling on all security agencies to be on the alert to forestall the antics of mischief makers who may want to take advantage of this false rumour to cause panic and havoc.
When contacted for comment via his cell phone number, the state Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Mr. Chiedu Ebie did not pick his calls, neither did he respond to the text message sent to his cell phone as at the time of filing this report.
Meanwhile, following fake alarm from some quarters over immunization of pupils in schools, the Commissioner of Police in Delta State, Mr. Zanna Mohammed Ibrahim yesterday said there was no truth in the statement and advised all to disregard the rumour.
CP Zanna Ibrahim said that there is no cause for alarm whatsoever in the state as Delta is safe, calm and secure.
The commissioner stated this, this yesterday against the backdrop of false rumours going round that security agencies were engaged in forceful vaccination/injection of school children with suspected unwholesome substances in neighbouring Anambra State, and were likely to come to schools in Delta State to do so.
The police boss, while reiterating that the rumour was spurious and orchestrated by mischievous elements whose sole aim is to cause unnecessary panic in an otherwise very peaceful and orderly state, called on Deltans to disregard the rumours and go about their lawful businesses and assures them that the Command will continually do all within its power to ensure their safety and security at all times.
In the commercial city of Nnewi and its surrounding suburbs Onitsha, Ozubulu, Oba, Nkpor, Nnobi, Awka etc the rumour filtered into the city that a group of health personnel’s from the Federal Ministry of Health is in Onitsha and other neighboring town going around all the schools in the area injecting the dreaded monkey pox diseases to students forcefully and that several students given the vaccine has died instantly in an unnamed secondary school.
Our correspondent who monitored the incident gathered that in the ensuing confusion many schools, markets, offices, were hurriedly closed down with many residents rushing to various schools in the area to withdraw their wards from schools and stayed indoors just as many vehicular movements went up off the roads.
Unconfirmed sources said that about 10 students of Ichi Technical School, Ichi Nnewi and five students of Benneth Etiaba Secondary School Uruagu Nnewi, owned by the former Deputy Governor of the state, Mrs. Virginia Etiaba who were given the vaccine later on developed swollen hand as a result of the vaccine and sources said that because of this multiple effects, people started doubting the genesis of the vaccine for rumours to start flying leading to panic by residents.
Contacted to confirm this development, the Divisional Police Officer of Central Police Station (CPS) Nnewi Mr. Mohammed Musa (CSP) and his counterpart at Ozubulu Ekwusigo Local Government Area, as well as that of Nnewi South and Nnobi Police Divisions said that the whole incident was caused by a rumour and social media, stating that no life was lost or somebody wounded.
Also, the Anambra State Commissioner for Education, Prof. Kate Omenugha did not pick her calls despite several attempts made to speak to her before going to the press.
But Mr. James Ezeh, the Senior Special Assistant on Media to the Anambra State Governor said that the pandemonium was as a result of rumour and social media as nobody died.
He said that he is aware that officers of 82 Division of Nigeria Army, Enugu are embarking on a free medical exercise to the people of the state and are currently in Ozubulu to treat people, promising to contact the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Kate Omenugha to get a clearer picture of the event and call back but did not call back before going to the press.