By Chinelo Obogo
The governorship candidate of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Osita Chidoka, has said that the recent uproar in the state over the free vaccines offered by the military to school children was an indication that residents distrust the army.
Viola Okolie, the media director of Osita Chidoka Campaign Organization in a statement, said the campaign was concerned about the panic caused by the conflicting reports over a medical outreach organised by the military in some schools in the state.
There was pandemonium across the South-East and Delta State following rumours that some immunisation officers accompanied by persons in army uniforms invaded schools and were injecting children with unusual vaccines.
Following the unsubstantiated rumour, parents and guardians stormed schools to ‘rescue’ their wards thereby causing heavy traffic and commotion.
This came in the wake of the medical outreach embarked upon by troops as part of its package for the ongoing ‘Operation Python Dance’ codenamed Egwu Eke.
Chidoka said that even though his campaign has nothing against any genuine social responsibility service by the military, he was disturbed by the twist of events which shows the intensity of mistrust and lack of confidence in the military occasioned by undesirable effects of the Operation Python Dance II.
“This is not the first time the military will be undertaking such exercise, but the panic and rejection that confronted the latest exercise speak volumes of the gap that now, unfortunately, exists between the military and the civilian population in the South-East due to the Operation Python Dance.
“While they were running from the military, many residents were trooping to similar interventions including that organized by the Chidoka Campaign, which recorded hundreds of medical interventions in Onitsha, the same Wednesday. Our medical team has been in the field for several weeks now and is still attending to people without any incident.
“Our take, therefore, is that the Operation Python Dance has painfully eroded the faith and confidence the citizens hitherto had in the military as their pillar of protection. The professional misconduct of some unscrupulous uniformed men involved in the exercise has succeeded in instilling fear in civilians while retarding their desired reliance on the military for such laudable interventions.
“Consequently, we urge the military high command not to gloss over this incident but take urgent and practical steps to allay the fears of the people and rebuild public confidence in the noble institution of the military, especially in the South East.
“The first step towards this is for the military authorities to immediately end the Operation Python Dance II and withdraw soldiers from the streets. This is in addition to releasing the outcome of its investigation on reported rights violations in the Operation Python Dance II, while appropriate sanctions are meted out on erring officers,” the statement reads. (The Sun)
By Adetutu Folasade-Koyi and Philip Nwosu
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)
From: Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
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)
The Federal Government has described as fake and sinister the report that the outbreak of Monkey Pox in some parts of the country resulted from the alleged free medical care by the government in the affected areas.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said Nigerians should disregard the report which, apparently, is being spread by some unscrupulous persons to fit into a sinister agenda.
”The Federal Government has not conducted any free medical service or care in either Bayelsa or Rivers state, as alleged in the fake report being circulated. So that could not have been the cause of the outbreak of Monkey Pox in both states.
“Monkey Pox is a virus found only in monkeys and it is rare in human beings. It belongs to the same family as Chicken Pox and Smallpox.
”It is suspected that someone may have contacted it by eating monkey meat, thus triggering the current outbreak,” the Minister said.
He assured that no effort will be spared in curtailing the spread of the disease.
SA To Hon Minister of Information and Culture
8 Oct. 2017.
The Republican News