Polio vaccinations are seen as part of a plot to reduce Nigeria’s Muslim population

ON FRIDAY morning, gunmen, believed to be members of the fanatical Muslim group Boko Haram, shot dead at least nine health workers who were administering polio vaccinations in the northern Nigerian city of Kano. The attacks took place in two different locations in Kano.

Police spokesman Magaji Majia said:

Nine people were killed in two separate attacks by gunmen on [motorised] tricycles when they attacked two dispensaries where polio immunisation workers were preparing to go out for polio campaigns.

A Nigerian child pictured receiving polio vaccine

A Nigerian child pictured receiving polio vaccine

Al Jazeera‘s Yvonne Ndege, reporting from Lagos, said that at one centre two people were killed and at least four people were injured. She said that at least seven people were killed at the other centre. Ndege said:

There are individuals and groups in the country that believe that vaccines, like the polio vaccination are some sort of ploy by Nigeria’s government, who, with foreign pharmeceutical companies, are trying to somehow reduce Nigeria’s muslim population.

Kano, Nigeria’s second largest city, has been regularly targeted by Boko Haram, which has condemned the use of Western medicine.

Said Ndege:

This goes way back to an incident that took place way back in the 1990s when the US pharmarceutical giant Pzifer ran meningitus drugs test here. It went wrong and dozens of children were killed.

Nigeria remains one of the few countries left in the world where polio remains endemic.

Last year, two Nigerian police guarding polio vaccination workers were killed by gunmen, though it was unclear if ?the attack was linked to the campaign.

According to the World Health Organisation, Nigeria accounted for 121 of the world’s 222 polio cases in 2012.

Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan has condemned the terrorist attacks. He assured the bereaved families that the loss of their loved ones will not be in vain as the Federal Government will ensure that the mission to totally eradicate polio from Nigeria is continued.

The President further assured all Nigerians and the international community, especially international health organisations and Nigeria’s development partners that the Federal Government will not be distracted from its objective of accelerating the reduction of maternal and child mortality in all parts of Nigeria by mindless acts of terrorism.

The President prayed for the peaceful repose of the souls of the victims of the attack.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn