The Nigerian Army has urged the public to disregard rumours that its ongoing free medical outreach, especially in the South-East, was aimed at de-populating the zone.

Col. Sagir Musa, Deputy Director, Public Relations, 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, made the call in a statement issued in Enugu on Wednesday.

Musa said that the free medical outreach was not a vaccine intended to infect monkey pox or any major contemporary or emerging diseases to the people of the zone or any part of the country.

He described as `silly and mischievous’ publications trending on the social media alleging that the ongoing free medical services giving to some communities in the zone was with a sinister motive of depopulating the region through the so-called `monkey pox vaccination’.

“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.

“Instructively, the free medical services in the region started on Sept. 18, 2017 in Nkwoagu community of Abakaliki Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

“At the event, the Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State, the Chairman of the Local Government and some traditional rulers of the benefiting community were there at the launching of the exercise by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai,’’ he said.

Other areas where the programme was conducted were Ovim in Isikwuato Local Government Area of Abia; Mbaise in Imo ; Oji River in Enugu and now Ozubulu in Anambra.

“In all the mentioned areas, there has not been any recorded incident or complaint of any kind arising from the noble humanitarian gesture of the Nigerian Army.

“Hence, the wicked, ill motivated rumour is the handiwork of unpatriotic elements who can go to any length to discredit the noble services of the army in the region, in which at the moment they will not succeed,’’ Musa said.

The spokesperson thanked the people of Ozubulu in Ekwusigo Local Government, including the chairman, Mr Ofademe Ikenna, and the Commissioner for Health, Dr Akabuike, who graced the occasion.

Musa also thanked the National Coordinator of Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme in the state for its support during the medical outreach.

Meanwhile, schools across the zone had shut down following rumours of death in the medical outreach.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that parents were seen taking their children in primary and secondary schools in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo.

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