Public schools in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, were thrown into chaos, Wednesday when rumours filtered in that monkeypox vaccines were being forcefully administered on pupils by unknown persons.
The rumour, which had caused confusion in a few other states in recent days, has been debunked by the army authorities several times.
The federal ministry of health had also on Wednesday issued a rebuttal denying the availability of such a vaccine.
The defence headquarters specifically denied the allegation in a statement signed by its spokesman, John Enenche.
But these denials appeared to have been dismissed by residents in Maiduguri as hundreds of school children bolted out of their classes on Wednesday.
Some parents equally forced their way into school premises to pick their children and wards.
However, none of the children or parents interviewed said they saw the people administering the vaccines. Despite this, the rumour quickly spread to many parts of the city.
“We were told that some pupils slumped and died after they injected them with the vaccine in Gwange area,” a 12-year-old schoolgirl, Lam said.
At Sanda Kyarimi primary school, parents reportedly engaged in fisticuffs with staff unwilling to release the kids.
“They (parents) had to break the gate and force the kids out”, a member of Civilian-JTF said.
“It was really chaotic there as the parents began to break doors and throw stones at the teachers whom they accused of plotting to inject their kids with monkeypox causing vaccines.”
The Borno state government has not officially responded to the development.
But the executive chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB, Shettima Kullima, told journalists in an interview that about 37 public schools closed before official closing hours due to the rumour.
He said the board is monitoring the situation and would speak later on development.
The minister of health, Isaac Adewole said 74 cases have been recorded in 11 states.