-Your comments insensitive and callous
Toronto June 5, 2018
The Igbo Canadian Community Association (ICCA/Umunna) have described as insensitive and callous the insinuations made by President Muhammadu Buhari that the Nigeria Army showed a lot of restraints on Biafrans during the civil war.
In a statement issued from Toronto, Canada, the President of ICCA/Umunna, Chief Ugochukwu Okoro, said Buhari making such comments at a time when Igbos all over the world were observing a remembrance of their loved ones who died during the war is unfortunate and does not reflect the qualities of a democratic leader that should be liberal and inclusive.
President Buhari had during his investiture as Grand Patron of the Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS) at the presidential villa in Abuja, said that the Nigeria Army were issued strict instructions by the then head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, that Biafrans were not enemies, but “brothers and sisters of the rest of Nigerians.”
Okoro said “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,” Okoro said.
The ICCA/ Umunna demanded to know from the President Buhari what manner of restraint would leave three million persons dead.
“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?”
The ICCA/Umunna urged President Buhari to, rather than open fresh wounds of what Ndigbo went through the war, restrain himself and his loathing for Ndigbo by telling the world where the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and his aged father are being kept; Buhari should show some restraints towards Ndigbo by stopping the deployment of soldiers to South East region in whatever disguise to kill young Igbo youths indiscriminately.
“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.”
Okoro went on to say that in the spirit of unity among Ndigbo, ICCA/Umunna will host a special event in remembrance of Igbo sons and daughters who lost their lives during the war.
“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.”