The Nigerian Army has said that the military exercise, Operation Crocodile Smile II is to increase the operations of the Nigerian Army in the Niger Delta region.
The Army also reacted to the report of a vaccination which caused pandemonium in Yenagoa.
The Brigade Commander, 16 Brigade, Brig- Gen Kevin Aligbe who said the operation was to increase the rhythm and mileage of the army in the Niger Delta maintained that there was no need for the people to panic.
Aligbe spoke Saturday during the environmental exercise by the 16 Brigade as part of the activities for the period of the operation and said the Army would maintain professionalism during the exercise.
“Operation crocodile smile II is intended to increase the rhythm of our combat operations in the creeks and land-based activities. At the end of the day the operational skills of all those participating will be sharpened and of course, we would have gained more mileage. Of course, a lot of resources have been given to the army headquarters to boost what we are doing.
He said apart from the routine activities in the creeks, rivulets and all land patrols, confidence building and all of that, the military decided to undertake some communities’ relation activities to bridge the gaps between the army and the immediate communities where they reside.
On the reported vaccination, Aligbe who noted that the Army has no intention of conducting a vaccination since it is not part of its medical outreaches noted that its medical outreaches are not forced on people.
‘‘During our outreach, we do not do vaccinations, we do not do immunization; we do basic medical checks and then offer medical materials to individuals that need them and it not by force. You will be surprised that in this time and age when you have social media that not even a shadow of the called people dressed in military uniform was caught on camera, especially with everybody having a cell phone that has a camera in it. Not even one school, not anywhere the same message, the same rumour that was heard in other states, but unfortunately was replicated here in Yenegoa, yesterday and caused a lot of apprehensions but as leaders we must stay on the part of truth in making sure that the services that are expected of us are delivered to the people. That is the professional responsibility that we have to the community where we reside and so our business.” (The Sun)
The Federal Government, through the Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, has said there is no ongoing vaccination against monkeypox in the South East or any other part of the country.
Dr Ihekweazu said this in Abuja, yesterday, at a Senate committee hearing on alleged monkeypox outbreak in parts of the country.
The NCDC boss explained that there is no relationship between his organisation and what is going on in the South East.
He cautioned Nigerians against participating in any immunisation against the disease.
Earlier in the week, some parents in Delta, Abia, Imo and Anambra, Yobe states, in a panic move, withdrew their children from schools, following unconfirmed reports that the army was administering immunisation vaccines suspected to be harmful.
The army has since denied the claims, saying the medical outreach is a social responsibility programme fashioned into the Operation Python Dance II, in the South East.
A statement by the Deputy Director Public Relations 82 Division, Col. Sagir Musa, on Wednesday, October 11, 2017, that the free medical outreach was not a vaccine intended to “infect monkeypox or any major contemporary or emerging diseases in Nigeria to the people of South East or any part of the country,” failed to douse the panic.
According to the statement, the free medical services in the region started on September 18, 2017, in Nkwaagu community in Abakaliki Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
That clarification, notwithstanding, parents and guardians still thronged schools to remove their wards and children.
Also, yesterday, Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Turkur Buratai said the opening of medical facilities to the public is part of the army’s corporate social responsibility.
The army chief said this when he commissioned Phase One of the armed force’s Radio-Diagnosis Ward and School of Midwifery at the 68 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.
said the Nigerian Army believes in providing a befitting facility for the treatment and management of wounded personnel and their families.
General Buratai said that these facilities and the medical services to be provided by the medical unit will further boost the morale and fighting efficiency of troops.
Monkeypox: Suspected cases rise to 33
From Fred Itua, Abuja
National Coordinator, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, has confirmed 33 reported cases of Monkey Pox infection in seven states of the Federation.
The NCDC boss, who disclosed this to senators yesterday said 17 out of the number manifested in Bayelsa State alone.
Others states where the disease has manifested, according to Ihekweazu, are Rivers, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Lagos, Ogun. He, however, pointed out that it was not certain whether, or not, all the victims reported to have been afflicted by monkeypox were actually infected by the virus or other diseases with similar symptoms.
The senators described as a national embarrassment and shame, the lack of public diagnostic centre for detection of the current outbreak in some states of the federation.
Members of the Senate committee on Primary Health Care and Communicable Diseases stated this at an interactive session with officials of NCDC, who were invited by the committee to brief it on the current outbreak of monkeypox disease in some states of the federation and efforts by the government to contain it.
Members urged the NCDC to submit to the committee, in the 2018 budget proposal, the full cost for setting up diagnostic centres in the 36 states of the federation and Abuja. They assured that the committee would give NCDC maximum support to get the required funds to establish such highly needed diagnostic centres across the country, to avoid the current national disgrace of going to other countries for diagnosis.
A member of the committee, Sam Anyanwu, urged the Federal Government to use all the funds it claimed to have recovered from looters to establish the diagnostic centres and, also, develop the health sector generally.
The national coordinator of NCDC shocked the lawmakers with the news that the country had no single government-owned diagnostic laboratory to test those suspected to be infected with the monkeypox virus.
He, however, told the lawmakers that it was only the Redeemer University in Nigeria that has the facilities to diagnose monkeypox, pointing out that the NCDC has sent the specimen to Dakar, Senegal, for diagnostic tests.
“There is no public laboratory centre in Nigeria at the moment that can carry out the diagnosis for monkeypox. We are walking very hard and have just opened the national reference laboratory in Gadua in Abuja. We don’t have the resources to develop laboratory services in the country.
“There is a critical challenge. All the work we do for surveillance can’t confirm diseases easily. So, that is one major strategic deficit we have. This is why we had to send samples to Dakar, where there is a World Health Organisation (WHO) laboratory to confirm the monkeypox. We sent two samples, one to Redeemers University laboratory and one to Dakar,” he said.
Briefing the committee, Ihekweazu revealed there was no known vaccination for the monkeypox menace and said the patients could only be managed in hospitals until they recover from the accompanying rashes of the contagious ailment.
On the speculation that NCDC was administering vaccination in partnership with the military, the national coordinator, said it was a rumour that had no truth in it and urged the public to disregard it.
Meanwhile, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has confirmed seven suspected cases of monkeypox in four hospitals in Abuja, with samples of six victims taken and sent to Senegal for test and confirmation.
It, however, denied rumours of an outbreak of the dreaded disease in Abuja, the nation’s capital. This was disclosed by the Secretary, Health and Human Services Secretariat (HHSS) of FCTA, Amanda Pam, while briefing newsmen yesterday.
She said: “Three suspected cases were recorded in National Hospital, two in Gwarinpa Hospital, one each in the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada and Nyanya General Hospital.”
Pam said the recorded cases were that of chicken pox, which shares similar appearance with monkeypox. On Wednesday, there were rumours of two cases of monkeypox outbreak at Gwarinpa General Hospital, Abuja.
“We had some suspected cases, and samples were collected and sent to the lab; so, we are waiting for the results, but from all indications, it is not monkeypox.
“But, I like the suspicion, because it is better to suspect than ignore it, and it later turns out to be positive. The truth now is there is no confirmed case of monkeypox disease in FCT,” she said.
Explaining further, FCT’s Acting Director of Public Health, Humphrey Okoroukwu, disclosed that he had already visited the said hospitals on Wednesday and reaffirmed no case of the virus was found.
He said surveillance officers from the public health department of the FCTA were deployed to the 62 wards of the territory, as a precautionary measure against threatening health issues.
The Federal Government had, through Nigeria Centre for Disease Control ((NCDC)), on Monday, confirmed suspected outbreak of monkeypox in seven states in the country, which included Bayelsa, Rivers, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Ogun and Cross River states. (The Sun)
The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), on Thursday, condemned in strong terms, the alleged forceful administration of Monkey Pox vaccine in some parts of South East especially in Anambra State which caused pandemonium in the region.
This was even as it alleged that the substance was imported from Iran with the aim of subtly annihilating the people of the region who are agitating for Biafra republic.
In a statement signed by the leader of the group, Uchenna Madu, MASSOB warned the military to be mindful of their activities in the South East and South-South region.
The statement partly read: “MASSOB through our intelligence agency has confirmed that the source of the immunization drugs was brought from Iran without the due process of clearing of imported goods, our intelligence report also proved that NAFDAC was sidelined before administration of the killer poison.
“Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) condemn the forceful immunization and administration of unknown drugs to Biafra children by medical personnel of Nigeria Army which led to the unconfirmed death of about three children in Ozubulu, Ekwusigo LGA, Anambra state.
“We see this camouflaged medical humanitarian service of Nigeria Army as another dimensional step to cause the annihilation of the people of Biafra. This Nigeria military annihilation exercise can be described as “Operation Python Death.
“The unfortunate incident at Ozubulu that snowballed into “Oso Abiola (Safety Run) has opened the eyes of Igbo doubting Thomases that Buhari led Hausa Fulani Islamic agenda against the Christian dominated Biafra land is real.
“The poisonous substance administered in Ozubulu is outrightly different from the medical drugs administered in Nkwegwu, Isukwuato and Mbaise. This is a biological warfare waged against our people by Nigeria state.
“The level of hatred President Buhari and his kinsmen displayed using the instruments of Nigeria state and primitive services of the security agents against the people of Biafra because of the emergence of Biafra can lead them to indescribable acts that will reduce our intimidating population.
“MASSOB wonder why an establishment geared towards total and open extrajudicial killings of armless and non-violent Biafrans, intimidating Igbo leadership, terrorising our people and villages through their Fulani herdsmen and subjecting our economic fortunes to nothingness will suddenly avail themselves as our medical and humanitarian Messiahs?
“MASSOB also wish to reaffirm our unshaken belief and resolute consistency on the actualization and restoration of the ancient kingdom of Biafra through non-violent means.
“Hausa Fulani frustrating and intimidating approach towards Biafra revolutionary struggle will never deter our self-determination movement to freedom” the statement concluded. ( The Sun)