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Civil War: Why Army Was Soft On Biafrans – PMB



President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday  disclosed that Nigerian army had strict and formal instructions to exercise restraint against Biafrans during the three-year civil war of 1967-1970.

He spoke at the Aso Rock Villa during his investiture as Grand Patron of the Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS).

Buhari, who commanded troops during the war, recalled that every military commander was issued the instructions in dispatches handed to them from the then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon.

He said that the dispatches explained that Gowon’s order for restraint was because he insisted that the Biafrans, mainly of the then Southeastern region of Nigeria, were not enemies but brothers and sisters of the rest of Nigerians.

The President 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.

In his remarks, the head of delegation  and National President of the NRCS, Chief Bolaji Anani, pleaded with the President to assent to the Bill amending the Red Cross Act of 1960, whenever the National Assembly, which is debating it, eventually gives its approval. The Act has not been  reviewed since it was passed in 1960.

He also demanded for operational vehicles for ease of the work of the Red Cross in Nigeria; restoration of annual grants from the federal government; and special government recognition and awards to Red Cross officials and volunteers who have exceled in service or paid the intimate price in service to the fatherland and humanity, in a bid to motivate more humanitarian gestures.

Anani further lamented that the Nigerian Red Cross has been operating from rented premises since it moved its headquarters from Lagos to Abuja, and has inadequate space to store relief materials and equipment.

The NCRS is the Nigerian arm of the global humanitarian Red Cross and Red Crescent Society. It is present in over 193 countries and plays a major role in providing relief materials to beleaguered and starving Biafrans during Nigeria’s civil war when the Southeast and South-South parts of the nation sought to break away to form an independent country.