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Ozubulu Chaos: Nigerian Army postpones medical outreach in S/East

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  • Says Python Dance medical outreach, not poisonous
  • Denies alleged ‘Monkeypox’ vaccination

By Joan Ejembi

The Anambra state Government said on Wednesday, that it has prevailed on the Nigerian Army to call-off a medical outreach it embarked upon in the state which has resulted in panic in the area.

This is coming as the Army also debunked the rumour making rounds that the Medical Outreach which is part of the Operation Python Dance II is a “poisonous Monkeypox vaccination”.

As part of its corporate social responsibility in Ozubulu, Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra state, the army had embarked on the outreach but   report residents became apprehensive, following insinuations that the exercise was intended to spread deadly disease to the citizens.

The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof.  Solo Chukwulobelu said in a statement that the state Governor, Chief Willie Obiano have “contacted the Army Authorities and advised for immediate stoppage of the medical outreach until wide sensitization is conducted to reassure people of its intentions and benefits. The exercise has therefore been put on hold.”

“The State has been made to understand that the exercise is part of Army social responsibility to members of the public. However, strong apprehension among the populace has followed the exercise leading to withdrawal of students from schools by parents, misconception of the actual motive behind the exercise by stakeholders, community leaders and a general reservation by the public for whom the outreach is intended,” he explained.

He advised parents and guardians to stop withdrawing their wards from schools as the situation has been handled.

“All schools within the State will remain open as there is no cause for alarm! Community leaders, Presidents General and all Stakeholders are hereby reassured of the commitment of the Governor and the State Government to the wellbeing of Ndi Anambra.

“The State Government also strongly condemns observed rhetoric on social media completely misrepresenting the situation with insinuations of spread of diseases and death of students in schools
arising from the exercise.

“The State categorically refutes this rhetoric and confirms that there is no death of any student anywhere in the State. Mischief makers are warned to desist from spreading falsehood. Anambra remains calm and peaceful,” Chukwulobelu said.

Meanwhile, reacting to the development, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) confirmed that there was actually a scheduled medical outreach programme by the Nigerian Army in the area.

The Chairman, NMA Anambra state branch, JKC confirmed that such programmes are routinely done after every military exercise in communities such as the ongoing Operation Python Dance II.

“The Council Chairmen and traditional rulers of concerned communities were duly informed; but, it appears that to information was not adequately disseminated to the citizenry that soldiers were only
setting up the sheds and stands for the exercise when some individuals concocted the rumors of an ulterior motive and began disseminating the false alarm. The false alarm led to considerable panic and confusion in the whole State now -Awka, Nnewi, Ozubulu, and Onitsha among others,” the NMA chairman said.

In the same vein, the 82 Division Nigerian Army (NA), has described as silly and mischievous, a publication trending on the social media alleging that the ongoing free medical services giving to some communities in the South Eastern Region of Nigeria is with a sinister motive of depopulating the region through the so called “monkey pox vaccination” purportedly being conducted by the NA in the region.

The Deputy Director of Army Public Relations (DDAPR), Col. Sagir Musa, clarified that the free medical outreach is not a vaccine intended to infect monkey pox or any major contemporary or emerging diseases in Nigeria to the people of South East or any part of the country.

Musa stressed that “the exercise is part of the corporate social responsibility initiatives imbued in to the overall Exercise Egwu Eke 11 package, to the people of the South Eastern Region which is the Area of Responsibility of the 82 Division NA and is also the theatre of the Exercise”.

Instructively, he said, the free medical services in the region started on the 18th of September 2017 in Nkwoagu community of Abakaliki Local Government Area (LGA) of Ebonyi State.  At the event, the Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State, the Chairman of the LGA and some traditional rulers of the benefiting community were there at the flag-off of the exercise by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai.

He listed other areas where the programme was conducted were Ovim in Isuikwuato LGA of Abia State, Mbaise in Imo State, Oji River in Enugu and now Ozubulu in Anambra State.

Musa noted that in all the mentioned areas, there has not been any recorded incident or complain of any kind arising from the noble humanitarian gesture of the NA.

“Hence, the wicked, ill motivated rumour/ lies are the handiwork of unpatriotic elements that can go to any length to discredit the noble services of the NA in the region, which at the moment they will not succeed.

“The 82 Division NA also wishes to thank all the good people of Ozubulu in Ekwusigo LGA including the chairman Engineer Ofademe Ikenna and the Honourable Commissioner for Health Anambra State Dr Akabuike who turned out enmass to grace/ benefit from the Exercise. Also our appreciation to the Anambra State National Coordinator of Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme Dr Okafor for gracing the occasion and commended the exercise,” he stated.

The DDAPR urged the public “to disregard the wicked rumour for the good of the people”.

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