Why Nigerian Army Was Not Hard On Biafrans – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday adduced reasons why the Nigerian Army was not hard on Biafrans agitating for separation during the 30 months civil war that wracked the country.
The President gave the reasons on Monday during his investiture as the Grand Patron of the Nigerian Red Cross Society.
He said the Nigerian Army, which he was part of, had strict and formal instructions to exercise restraint against Biafrans during the three-year civil war.
He said every military commander had 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, who promised to assist the organisation secure a permanent office accommodation in Abuja, showered praises on Gowon for that gesture and also the role of the Red Cross in bringing succour to victims of the war even in dangerous circumstances.
He said: “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 sacrifice 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.
“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.
“I have taken note of your logistics especially your request for office here.
“I assure you that the government will do its best when you decide to build such facilities in terms of securing an area here within the Federal Capital Territory and we hope you will not do the Nigerian ways of doing things.
“To use the words of famous Nigerian Minister: ‘I hope you will not build an elephantine headquarters’ but something functional because we have seen your activities throughout the country.”
The head of delegation and National President of the NRCS, Chief Bolaji Anani, said the organization has over 800,000 trained volunteers based in communities across the 774 local government areas of the federation.
Anani pleaded with the President to assent to the Bill amending the Red Cross Act of 1960 whenever the National Assembly, which was currently debating on it, eventually passes it, noting that the Act has not been reviewed since it was passed in 1960.
He said: “A review is long overdue.
“We note with pleasure that the current National Assembly is in the process of doing that.
“In fact, the revision has already undergone public hearing.
“We hope when the revised Bill is passed by the national assembly it will be to be graciously assented to by Mr President.”

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