Erstwhile president-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Dozie Ikedife, has revealed an alleged act by Nigeria’s former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd.) which is now making it difficult for President Muhammadu Buhari to rein in rampaging herdsmen.
He stated that after failing to subdue the people of Biafra in the early weeks of the civil war, Gowon allegedly brought in Fulani soldiers from neighbouring countries to help defeat the people of Biafra with a purported promise that they would be allowed grazing right all the way to eastern region.
Ikedife, who stated this in an interview with New Telegraph, reasoned that it is on this basis that the herdsmen feel it’s their right to graze wherever, adding that there is little Buhari can do about the situation.
His words, “Now, it is understood that certain things happened during the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War. Biafra declared its independence on May 30, 1967 and the then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon who was the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, said he was declaring a war against Biafra and expected that it would last for few weeks. He then underated the resistance and resolve of the Biafrans.
“When the thing did not end in three weeks as he expected, he engaged mercenaries who came and fought, took their money and left. But Biafrans did not surrender. Then he was told that the Nigerian troops could take Port Harcourt, that so long as Port Harcourt was in Biafra land, Biafra will not cave in.
“To reach Port Harcourt, he apparently signed an agreement with the people of Cameroon that they should allow him access through Bakassi area to Port Harcourt and at the end of the war Cameroon should take Bakassi. That was done.
“He signed that agreement as Nigeria signing away part of Biafran land while at that time Biafra was a sovereign state of its own recognised by some countries and Nigeria should have no legal right to sign away any part of its land.
“Notwithstanding, Biafra did not fall. Gowon was said to have obliged to enlist help from Muslim soldiers from other West African countries where a good number of them came to help fight and decimated Biafra to bring it back to Nigeria. The condition for that service was that they would be allowed grazing rights all the way down Eastern Region, that was agreed.
“And it appeared that looking back after the war, Cameroon claimed Bakassi and sacked natives of Bakassi who said they were Nigerians. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo as at that time took the case to the International Court of Justice (ICC) which ruled against Nigeria.
“Similarly, Fulani herdsmen from neighbouring countries are of the assertion that based on the agreement with the Nigerian government during the civil war, they will graze their cattle at any place they want. And they now have the temerity to sack villages, communities and towns. And when they do, they just set up their homes and it appears that Buhari’s hands are tied because of that agreement allegedly signed by Gowon.”