By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army at the weekend again denied the allegations that its officers were invading schools and forcibly administering vaccines on school children in the southern part of the country.
The army urged those escalating the rumour to at least present pictorial or video evidence of soldiers moving into schools to immunise anyone, or stop misinforming the public and causing unnecessary tension.
The Commander, 16 Brigade, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Brig. Gen. Kevin Aligbe, who conducted his men round the state capital while carrying out the cleaning of major streets in the state capital, urged Nigerians to “ take ownership” of the military and see the army as their own.
“So you will be surprised that not even the shadow of the so-called people dressed, if u like, in military uniform, were caught on camera. With everybody now having cell phones with cameras.
“Not one school, none anywhere. Unfortunately, the rumour was replicated here in Yenagoa and it caused a lot of apprehension, but as leaders, we must stay on the path of truth and deliver service”, he said.
He maintained that aside basic medical services which the army renders to communities where they operate in collaboration with local leaders of the affected areas, at no time had soldiers embarked upon injecting people randomly, especially school children.
Gen. Aligbe added: “You aptly depressed it as a rumour. During our outreaches, we do not do vaccination or immunisation. We do basic medical checks and offer materials to people that need it and no one is forced”.
The senior army officer who also visited the Federal Medical Centre in the city centre to donate materials and present cash gifts to women that had just given birth at the hospital, said the gesture was part of Operation Crocodile Smile 11.
“What we are doing now is to touch base with communities where we operate. This is service to the community and at the end you will know that the sacrifice is worth it.
“The environmental sanitation exercise is part of the activities lined up for Operation Crocodile Smile II activities in the creeks and the rivulets. This is to bridge the gap between the army and communities where we operate.
“Operation Crocodile Smile II is intended to increase the rhythm of our combat operations in the creeks as well as our land -based activities. At the end of the day, the operational skills of all those participating will be sharpened and of course we would have gained more mileage,” Aligbe explained.
He noted that a lot of resources had been deployed to boost the operation , stressing that grounds that would have been covered in three months, would now be done in just one month.
Mr Ben Akpedi, the spokesman of the FMC had earlier lauded the army for collaborating with the hospital, saying that the army remains” the pride of the nation.”