Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon on Saturday revealed how a genocidal plot by the Nigerian Army against the Igbos was averted during the civil war.
He spoke at the 80th birthday of a former Minister of Defence, Domkat Bali.
According to him, a final reproach that would have made people accuse Nigerian army of doing something ‘terribly wrong’, was about to be carried out against the Biafra people.
But Gowon said his order and Bali’s obedience to the order saved many innocent Igbos who would have been victims of the planned offence towards the end of the war.
He said, “During the civil war, towards the end of that situation, when you were getting ready for the corps of artillery to start the final reproach and your men were ready to move, you received instructions from me to rescind signal instruction because the rebels had surrendered and therefore there was no need for that final operation. And I understand that when you got the message, your loyalty and discipline was such that you asked your men to stand down and not to fire a shot.
“Otherwise, if you had done so, there would have been so many casualties and Nigerian Army would have been accused of doing something terribly wrong. Through your discipline and loyalty, you were able to ensure that many innocent lives were saved and we ended the war as a result of that with ‘no victor, no vanquished’ and may I say well done for that particular service.”
Gowon then advised military officers currently in service to make reaching the peak of their careers their goals. He said they should not strive at becoming head of state as was the case during his time.
Gowon oversaw the Nigerian civil war of 1967 to 1970 where over three million people were said to have died.
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