According to reports, the Borno State Government would not close public schools over rumours that some strange persons were forcefully administering deadly vaccines on pupils in schools, which led to massive withdrawals of pupils from schools in Maiduguri by parents on Thursday.
Commissioner for Education, Musa Inuwa Kubo, said this yesterday at a news conference at the Musa Usman Secretariat complex, while reacting to alleged forceful inoculation of children by unknown persons.
The state Board for Universal Basic Education (UBE) had earlier announced that schools in the state capital might be shut for three days as a result of the scare.
The commissioner insisted: “The Ministry of Education was not aware of any vaccination exercise that was to be carried out in any of the schools in Maiduguri.
“As far as we in the ministry are concerned, the Ministry of Health or any health agency has not contacted us on any inoculation exercise. And nobody came to us to obtain permission to enter these schools for either vaccination or inoculation, as the case may be.
“Our schools will remain open; we cannot close the schools because of some unfounded rumours.”He said the rumour was the handiwork of mischief-makers bent on bringing chaos into the country, adding that no such rumour would be allowed to set the state back after struggling to reopen our schools that were forced to shut down by Boko Haram insurgency.
At a separate press conference, officials of the Ministry of Health also denied the rumor, noting: “We heard the news and mobilised the directors in charge of disease control and emergency, who confirmed that such injectable vaccines were not going on in any schools,” the Permanent Secretary, Mustapha Allau, said.
He said there were ongoing vaccinations against polio and cholera, which were restricted to mostly Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps and Jere, Dikwa and Monguno Councils.
Executive Director of the state Primary Healthcare Development Agency (PHCDA), Dr. Sule Mele, also said all the immunisation exercises in the state were coordinated and those that are ongoing are oral vaccination.
“We have heard about the rumour in other parts of the country even before we started the just-concluded polio vaccination and we have mobilised our community leaders and religious clerics, who spoke about it in the mosques and churches, calling on the public not to panic,” Mele said.
Representative of the Shehu of Borno, Zanna Boguma, further disclosed that the rumor came at a time the PHCDA was holding a meeting ahead the forthcoming measles vaccination exercise.
He described the rumour as baseless and mischievous aimed at destabilising the peace of the state and called on parents to always rely on constituted authority any time such rumours break out and to report persons peddling such rumors to appropriate authorities.