It was serious pandemonium in parts of Imo, Abia, Anambra and Enugu States between Tuesday and Wednesday following the commencement of the Nigerian Army free medical outreach for civilians in the region.
In Imo, several school children were seen running away from their schools for fear of being injected killer substances in the name of free medical treatment as part of last lap of Operation Phyton Dance. The month-long highly criticized military exercise is billed to end on Saturday, October 14, having started on September 15.
Though a national news agency reportedly said that the fears were false, several telephone calls in parts of Imo state revealed serious disquiet as the indigenes are yet to understand the reason behind switching from security exercise to free medical services after the experiences in parts of Abia State especially Aba and Umuahia.
However, in Anambra, the state’s Commissioner for Health, Dr Joseph Akabuike, who dismissed the social media reports, explained that the pandemonium was caused by fears of monkey pox disease, currently reported in some parts of the country.
According to him, “We rushed down immediately we heard the rumour. All the instruments being used by the army for the free medical mission are all life-saving instruments”
“So we want to allay the fear of the public. They should not be afraid; rather we should count ourselves lucky to receive such free treatment.”
Akabuike commended the army for the gesture, assuring that the State Government would provide needed support to make the outreach successful.
Earlier in his remarks, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division Enugu, Maj.-Gen. Mohammed Abubakar, explained that the exercise was part of Operation Python Dance II in the South-East.
Represented by Brig.-Gen. J.O. Ugwuoke, the GOC said the exercise had taken place in Enugu, Imo, Ebony, Abia and was now in Anambra.