President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday gave reasons why the Nigerian army was soft on Biafrans during the civil war.
According to him, they had strict and formal instructions to exercise restraint against Biafrans during the three-year civil war of 1967-1970, revealed the President.
“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, he said during his investiture as Grand Patron of the Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS).
“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.”
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.
Buhari, praised Gowon for that gesture and also the role of the Red Cross in bringing succour to victims of the war even in dangerous circumstances, noting that the pathetic pictures of war-ravaged Biafrans were always heartrending.
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 is a lot of sacrifices because anything can 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.