He said the soldiers showed a lot of restraint because the then Head of Yakubu Gowon had issued a directive that "Nigerian Army was not fighting enemies but "brothers".
The President stated this in Abuja on Monday, June 4, while speaking at his investiture as Grand Patron of the Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS).
Red Cross role
Buhari said the Nigerian Red Cross and their international counterparts made a lot of sacrifices both in the front lines and behind the scenes during the war.
He said, "Earlier in my profession, during the civil war, I know how much sacrifice members of the Nigerian Red Cross and their international counterparts did both in the real front of operations and at the rear, on both sides. I think it is a lot of sacrifices because anything can happen to you in the operational areas.
"The risks they faced were real and I admire their courage and commitment to helping people who were in distress and were virtually in millions. Those photographs of people from the Biafra enclave spoke a lot.
"I remember with nostalgia the performance of the commander-in-chief, General Yakubu 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 international observer teams were allowed to go as far as possible within and outside the front and I think this was generous and very considerate of General Gowon. He is a highly committed Nigerian."
A million Nigerians were said to have died of starvation during the Nigerian Civil War which was fought between 1967 and 1970.