More reactions have continued to trail President Muhammadu Buhari’s claim that the Nigerian Army exercised a lot of restraints while fighting Biafrans during the Civil War that lasted from 1967 to 1970.
THE WHISTLER recalls President Buhari’s remark at the State House as: “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 president made the remark during his investiture as the Grand Patron of the Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS) at the presidential villa in Abuja on Monday.
But countering the claim that the Army was soft on Biafrans at the war front, the Igbo Canadian Community Association (ICCA/Umunna) accused President Buhari of re-opening the wounds of holocaust with his comment.
The ICCA/Umunna) described as “insensitive and callous”, the claim by the president that Nigerian soldiers fought Biafrans as their brothers rather than as enemies.
Speaking in a statement issued from Toronto, Canada, by its President, Chief Ugochukwu Okoro, the ICCA/Umunna said:
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“It is appalling that President Buhari, being the Commander-in-Chief and an active participant during the civil war meant to exterminate people of Igbo origin across the country could make such statements credited to him. We find his remarks misguided and calculated to assault the emotions of Ndigbo in a manner designed to re-open the wounds of pogrom, holocaust and attempted annihilation meted against the Igbo people in the 30 months civil war waged on the people of the South East region leading to the deaths of over three million Igbo sons, daughters and children.
“Choosing to use such tragic event such as the civil war, which left three million innocent and defenseless men, women and children dead, to commend the activities of the Red Cross leave more to be desired from the leader of a country. One would have thought that President Buhari ought to have made reference to recent incidents that occurred under his watch to encourage the Red Cross. In March this year, 11 people including three aid workers were killed when suspected Boko Haram militants attacked a barracks in Rann, Borno State leading the United Nations (UN) to evacuate aid workers in the region. It would have been honourable and compassionate if President Buhari showed some humanity by using the event of his investiture as a patron of the Red Cross to reach out to the families of the aid workers hundreds of Nigerians that have lost their lives to attacks under his leadership,” said the group.
The ICCA/ Umunna wondered what manner of restraint was exercised by the Nigerian Army that allegedly left no fewer than 3 million Ndigbo dead during the Civil War.
“When President Buhari said the Nigeria Army troops showed a lot of restraints we beg to ask in what ways were these shown; was restraint used in the pogrom carried out in the Northern region during the months of February- July 1967 in which over 500,000 Igbos were continuously being killed in the Araba riots? Was the indiscriminate bombing of hospitals, schools and marketplaces with innocent men, women and children targeted and killed part of the restraint? Was the massacre that occurred in Asaba which left every living male shot to death also a form of restraint by the Federal troops? Was the blockage of food and relief materials from entering Biafra also regarded as the orders of restraint Federal commanders were given? Even with the No Victor No Vanquished Declaration by the Gowon government, was the Abandoned Property Decree and Twenty pounds payment policies of the Federal Government among the restraints President Buhari was referring to?
“This is a President that will blame the late Libyan leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi, for his inability to check the incessant killing of Nigerians by the Fulani herdsmen of which he is a patron with no arrests made but will order the Nigeria Army to kill Ndigbo and citizens of Nigeria as witnessed in the so-called the Operation Python Dance in September last year.
“On June 16, the ICCA will host the 2018 Biafra Memorial Event where we will be showing what Ndigbo went through and have been able to achieve despite the setback of the war. This will also afford us an opportunity to remember our loved and lost ones. And we will use the event to educate President Buhari if that the ingenuity and brilliance of Ndigbo were what sustained the civil was to last the length it did and that same ingenuity will drive Ndigbo towards emancipation from the marginalization and cruelty they Buhari administration has shown to the people of the South-East,” said the group.
Meanwhile, former Aviation Minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, in his reaction to Buhari’s comment, said: “This is a lie from the pit of hell and it is insulting and deeply offensive. We must learn from our history and never repeat its mistakes.”
Fani-Kayode asked if “the killing of 2 million innocent and defenceless Biafran civilians and the premeditated and contrived starving to death of 1 million innocent Biafran children [was] an act of restraint.”
The former minister alleged that it was due to the bid by the Buhari government to lie and bury history that “they banned the teaching of history in our schools. Too much to hide!”