President Muhammadu Buhari has given reasons why the Nigerian Army was ‘soft’ on Biafrans during 30 months civil war. He revealed that soldiers had strict and formal instructions to exercise restraint against Biafrans during the civil war that stretched from 1967 to1970.
He recalled that every military commander was issued the instructions in dispatches handed to them from the then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, that the Biafrans, were not enemies but brothers and sisters of the rest of Nigerians.
The President stated this on Monday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja during his investiture as Grand Patron of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, NRCS.
His words, “Earlier in my profession, during the civil war, I know how much sacrifice members of the Nigerian Red Cross and their international counterparts did; both in the real front of operations and, at the rear, on both sides. I think it was a lot of sacrifices because anything could happen to you in the operational areas.
“The risks they faced were real and I admire their courage and commitment to helping people who were in distress and were virtually in millions. Those photographs of people from the Biafra enclave spoke a lot.
“I remember, with nostalgia, the performance of the Commander-in-Chief, General Gowon.
“Every commander was given a copy of the commander-in-chief’s instructions that, we were not fighting enemies but that we were fighting our brothers. And thus, people were constrained to show a lot of restraint. The international observer teams were allowed to go as far as possible within and outside the front and I think this was generous and very considerate of General Gowon. He is a highly committed Nigerian.”
But in a swift response, a former minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, disagreed with the President, describing Buhari’s statement as a “despicable lie” and offensive.
“One of the most wicked and despicable lies that @MBuhari has ever told is that the Nig. Army was restrained when fighting the Biafrans during the civil war.
“This is a lie from the pit of hell and it is insulting and deeply offensive. We must learn from our history,” Fani-Kayode tweeted.