The misuse of the power of social media to control human affairs played out again across Nigeria's South-East region on Wednesday.

FAKE NEWS was spread and hundreds of people were made to face the consequences.

Proprietors of schools in the region were shocked when they saw parents rushing into school premises when it was still far from closing time.

Most of them requested for their children and immediately left for home.

Panic was all over their faces and fear of the unknown was the best way to describe their actions.

A message had circulated on some social platforms.

One received by one of our correspondents reads: “Please call all your family, tell them not to participate in any free medical care by Nigeria Govt. They want to reduce S/East population. They did it in Bayelsa. That was the result of the monkey pox that is killing children right now. It is a virus. Send it to people you know that live in S/East. You might save lives”.

That FAKE NEWS yielded result few days after it was circulated.

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Mrs Bridget Eneh, the Headmistress of Victory Group of Schools, Abakaliki, told the News Agency of Nigeria that she was shocked to see parents throng her school to pick their wards.

“I read an online post that the army was forcefully vaccinating pupils against the Monkey Pox disease, with an advice that parents should immediately evacuate their children.

“I decided to convene an emergency management meeting; but before this could be done, parents had besieged the school and forcefully left with their children,” she said.

Mrs Uchechukwu Ojigwe, another School’s Headmistress, said that efforts to assuage the fears of the parents, fell on deaf ears.

panic on south east as parents withdraw children f

“I tried to explain to them that some security personnel had visited our school to ensure there was no pandemonium but they would not listen to me.

“A parent even accused me of supporting the army’s plans to kill children and I find this accusation outrageous and unbelievable,” she said.

Mr Nachor Ukonna, a civil servant and parent, who said that he also had to take his child from the school, advised relevant authorities to expeditiously review the dissemination of information on the social media.

“This sort of information can lead to stampede in schools with calamitous consequences,” he said.

Apparently, there was poor sensitisation of people in the south east on the false information before the panic.

In Ebonyi State, the Commissioner for Education, Professor John Ekeh, spoke concerning the situation.

“The news of forceful vaccination is false and parents and teachers should disregard such information.

“The purveyors of such information want to truncate efforts by the government to enhance the state’s educational system and we call on the pubic to resist it.

“We have gone round the schools and discovered that the army did not visit any school to vaccinate children or conduct any other activity,” he said.

The Commissioner for Health, Dr Daniel Umezurike, also debunked the news, noting that the ministry had refuted the information through appropriate media channels in the state.

“We are not conducting any vaccination or any other form of medical outreach in schools in the state and would definitely communicate to the public when we plan to do so,” he said.

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The spokesman for 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Colonel Sagir Musa, also advised the public to disregard the information, stressing that it was false and “mere rumour’’.

“I am presently at Ozubulu, Anambra, where we are conduction free medical outreach in schools but we are not vaccinating pupils,” he said.

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