Boko Haram: How Lt. Colonel Abu Ali, Nigerian Army’s ‘Lord of War’ died; gets post-humus promotion to Colonel.
After Lt. Col Abu Ali led fighting troops to foil an attempt by over 60 Boko Haram terrorists, heavily armed with anti-tank weapons, anti-Aircraft guns, GPMGs and several AK 47 rifles who attempted to overrun Mallam Fatori on Friday November 4, 2016, the senior officer moved several hundreds of meters ahead to ascertain the casualty figures of BH terrorists killed and own troops either killed or injured.
As the Commander who led from the front, Ali disembarked from his T 72 armoured battle-tank while some of his soldiers accompanied him to carry out mop up if any.
The purpose of this action was to ensure there were no further terrorists hiding in caves, hills or underneath bushes to carry out further ambush.
Having satisfied himself that the environs were clear, the officer according to soldiers, ordered his men to return to their position.
However, unknown to him, a new group of terrorists, mysteriously emerged from nowhere as the soldiers were heading back to position and opened fire with the soldiers and Lt. Col Ali in the middle leading to the death of Abu Ali, some of his soldiers while others were injured.
Though many of the terrorists were killed and many others escaped with bullet wounds, it is still a mystery how this set of terrorists emerged from nowhere, especially an area that was initially cleared of terrorists to eliminate the troops.
That was how Lt. Col. Muhammad Abu Ali, a recipient of the Chief of Army Staff award for exceptional bravery and excellence who led the army units that recovered Gamboru-Ngala, Baga and several communities from the terrorists, lost his life, military sources told securitykingng.org.
Recall that after the battle, fourteen (14) of the terrorists were neutralized, a large cache of arms and ammunition were recovered while many of them escaped with bullet wounds into the bushes.
How Lt. Col Abu endeared himself to Officers, Soldiers.
It has been revealed that the death of Lt. Col. Abu Ali was particularly painful to officers and soldiers because at one point during the operation to liberate one of the recovered territories, Monguno in Borno State, he put his life on the line by frontally taking on scores of the terrorists so that wounded soldiers could be successfully evacuated from the battle front to receive medical attention.
During the operation, Lt. Col Ali (whose 272 Task Force Battalion is mobile and rotational) was said to have driven his then armoured 105 Howitzer battle tank against the terrorists and fired until he ran out of ammunition.
The terrorists later surrounded the armoured tank, thinking the operator had run away, bombed it with IEDS, and pumped several rounds of AK 47 rifles into the armoured tank and all visible opening of the tank.
Having concluded that whatever was left of the Howitzer was carcass, the terrorists were said to have left, jubilating the demobilization and destruction of an armoured tank of the Nigerian Army.
Troops of 272 Task Force battalion who escaped the attack, already went back to base to report that Lt. Col Ali was killed.
But almost 48 hours later when everybody concluded the worst had happened, they saw the 105 Howitzer of Col Abu Ali making its way back to base even in its state of near destruction.
When the battle tank stopped, behold, it was Lt. Col Abu Ali that disembarked.
The disbelieving soldiers and officers burst out in jubilation, chanting his praise and quickly rushed him to receive first aid attention because he was bleeding from his nose, ears and other parts of the body.
The officer was later said to have been rushed out for treatment to stop the bleeding from different parts of his body.
However, having been treated and certified okay, Lt. Col. Abu Ali who said he had an unfinished business of annihilating Boko Haram terrorists, liberating both hostages and remaining villages, returned to battle but this time with the brand new T-72 long range battle tank.
It is in recognition of this commitment and doggedness that President Muhammadu Buhari, as gathered, has directed the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Buratai to give a post-humus promotion of a full Colonel to the late Lt. Colonel Muhammad Abu Ali.
So on Monday, November 5 2016 when hundreds of Nigerians thronged the National Military Cemetery Abuja to bid farewell to Lt Col. Abu Ali and six other military personnel who died following the Boko Haram ambush in the North East, many who attended the burial of the seven military personnel were shocked to see a side of military they were hitherto not aware of.
Not even the relatives of military men could believe what they saw- that soldiers could also cry and shed tears. The most impactful of all was seeing the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Buratai, losing emotion and sobbing uncontrollably.
These men of steel and hardened lot in the art of violence if used to defend the territorial space of the nation, were not crying because they were overpowered by enemy forces at the battlefield but for the fact that some of their gallant and most dedicated colleagues in the ongoing war against Boko Haram terrorism in the North East got smitten to the world beyond in circumstances still hard to comprehend.
The seven soldiers, namely: Lt Col. Muhammad Abu-Ali, Seargent Muazu Ibrahim, Corporal Bassey Okon, Husseini Jafaru, Cpl. Chukwu Simon, Private Salisu Lawal and Seaman Patrick Paul, were among the soldiers inducted into the Operation Lafiya Dole in 2014, designed to fight the Boko Haram insurgents and liberate the North-East from the grip of the insurgents.
When rumour spread that fateful day that the soldiers had lost their lives to the terrorists, not many could believe until the military authorities did not only confirm but also informed that the remains of the fallen heroes were billed to be buried Monday, at the National military cemetery, Abuja.
Spokesman of the Nigeria Army, Colonel Sani Usman, who confirmed the incident, in a statement, had said four other soldiers also sustained injury during the fight.
Many soldiers at the burial site of the deceased military personnel could not hold back tears like Buratai, as they openly cried over the demise of the fallen seven colleagues.
Buratai’s words at the graveyard of the deceased, amidst tears reads, “They led the battle to recapture the following towns: Monguno, Baga, new Marte, Bama, Gwoza, Banki Junction, Gamboru-Ngala, Yale, Yanteke, Bita, Deruwa, Daira Kangaruwa and Mallam Fatori.
“In these battles, they rescued children and women, fathers and mothers, the young and the old and restored peace and hope to Nigerian citizens,” he said in his tribute.
Noting with pain in his heart that the deceased paid the supreme sacrifice on November 4, in the battle of Mallam Fatori,’’ Buratai said the deceased “epitomized the very best of our military.”
“They exemplified the values of our nation and the military which are: loyalty, discipline, courage, selfless service, respect, honour and dignity, “he said, adding that “your labour will never be in vain”.
He promised that the army would take care of their survivors.
Before the bodies of the fallen soldiers were committed to mother earth, many military rituals including procession and gun salute were performed.
Speaking at the solemn event, Buhari who was represented by his Chief of Staff said the deceased had shown unalloyed commitment to the nation.
“They were fearless, responsive, inspiring, selfless; and dedicated to their duties.
“The selflessness of these gentlemen reinvigorates the memories of other great fallen heroes, who stood firm in the defence of our dear nation,’’ the president said.
“It is, therefore, our resolve that the labour of these fallen heroes shall never be in vain,’’ he said, adding that insurgency and terrorism would be defeated.
The deceased were interred at about 5.55 p.m. after all necessary military ceremonies.
Lt. Col. Muhammad Abu Ali’s Course-mates ‘50 Regular Course’ said –
“Hardly has a story of bravery evoked such passion in recent times amongst Nigerians as is being told of Late Lt. Col. Muhammed Abu Ali who died in confrontation with Boko Haram insurgents in the theatre of war in the North Eastern part of Nigeria.
“Muhammed Abu Ali was born on the 15th of August, 1980 in Lagos State. With parents hailing from Kogi State, he attended Army Children’s School in Maiduguri and later on joined Command Secondary School, Jos. He joined the Nigeria Defence Academy in 1998 and became a commissioned officer in 2003.
“On the 25th of January, 2008, he and his heart throb whom he met in Kaduna got married and were blessed with 3 children – Fatima, Amir and Yasmin. Popularly called “Slim” by his friends and “Sarkin Yaki” by fellow combatants, he was known as a human terror to terror for his daring campaigns as Commander, 272 Task Force Battalion.
“He fought for the glory of nation and was unshakable in his steely resolve to retain the territorial integrity of Nigeria – a price that came with the sacrifice of his life in the line of duty.
“A patriot per excellence and an unyielding force to enemies of our nationhood, Lt. Col Muhammed Abu Ali was not one to shy from battle. Under very difficult circumstances, he and his men successfully recovered scores of towns from Insurgents.
“Before he and four others fell in combat from an ambush, he had been decorated for his gallantry by the Nigerian Chief of Army Staff, who decorated him as a Lieutenant Colonel in September 2015, shortly after he was promoted a Major.
“He was also Recipient of the Chief of Army Staff Award for Bravery and Excellence. In a statement by the Army Authorities, the fallen hero was said to “serve the nation with unwavering commitment and dedication, paying the ultimate price so that millions can sleep on their beds in peace”.
“From the frontlines, it is reported that he was instrumental to the military campaign that won back Baga from the stranglehold of Boko Haram. From soldiers in the frontline, we learn that he initially started his brave conquests from Yola, in Adamawa State from where he was moved to Borno. He and his battalion later moved to recover Monguno and later to Konduga – dreaded no-go areas of battle.
“Through Yale, he and his battalion were again instrumental to the recovery of Bama, Pulka and eventually Gwoza back to control of the Nigerian forces.
“The stories of uncommon courage that trail his achievements on his military assignments are unending. He was reputed as telling his men to load him up with 95% of the duties of engagement.
“He was a dutiful officer and will be missed by millions of Nigerians who today have come into new realizations of the challenges of the war front.
Continuing, the Course-mates described Abu Ali as an irreplaceable asset that Nigeria will miss. Lt. Colonel Muhammed Abu Ali is a towering source of inspiration and will now serve as a rallying point for a united re-assessment of the support that our Men and Officers require for success.
His, will also be a painful loss of friendship. Rest in Peace Gallant Soldier. Nigeria appreciates you.