He was ready to die for Nigeria –Friends
By Philip Nwosu
The Nigerian Army had been mourning the death in battlefield of the slain Commanding Officer of 272 Tank Battalion in Maiduguri, Lt. Col. Muhammad Abu Ali.
Also, friend of the officer and soldiers, who had worked with him, had also expressed grief since the announcement of his death. Some had wept uncontrollably wishing that the news were a hoax.
A statement by the Theatre Command Centre of Operation Lafiya Dole in Maiduguri, said Ali, nicknamed, Sarkin Yaki [Chief Warrior], was the Commanding Officer, 272 Task Force Battalion at Mallam Fatori in Northern Borno.
The Theatre Command said the officer died in confrontation with suspected Boko Haram terrorists, who attacked 119 Battalion, Nigerian Army location at Mallam Fatori on Friday, in a failed attempt to capture the town.
The statement added that the slain officer was “a source of inspiration to us and millions of Nigerians, praying for the speedy end of the insurgency.
Similarly, a journalist that had covered the Boko Haram crisis in the North East and now based in South Africa, Hamza Idris, said only those who were in Borno at the height of the Boko Haram territorial conquest would understand and appreciate the exit of Lt. Col. Abu Ali.
The journalist in his tribute said Ali was full of gallantry, sacrifice, loved Nigeria and ever willing to die in order to keep it one.
He said the late officer was quiet, considerate, compassionate and caring; leading by example was his trademark at the height of confrontation with Boko Haram terrorists.
“Lt. Col. Ali was the soldier, who operated the most sophisticated of all war equipment deployed to the North East, traversed the North, Central and Northern Borno endlessly and tirelessly; recovered towns and liberated villages under control of the Boko Haram.”
He explained that during the heat of the crisis in the North East, the slain Commanding Officer worked tirelessly for the success achieved by the troops, adding that, “It was Ali, who, during the day and night, come rain, come shine, stepped on countless landmines that dotted Borno’s porous borders with Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria, cleared the paths for our dear soldiers, who rescued the weak, the kids, the women and the old from the clutches of the Boko Haramists.”
The journalist said even though the officer was smallish in appearance, he had the heart of lion. “He never retreated, he never relented, he never compromised and he never gave up until the last hour. Yes, he was, Ali the conqueror of the ambitious Abubakar Shekau’s Empire. Ali’s short but eventful life will never be forgotten in the annals of Nigerian history. He came, he saw, he conquered and cleared the ruins for the next generation.”
A recipient of the Chief of Army Staff Award for Exceptional Bravery and Excellence, Lt. Col. Ali, led the army units that recovered Gamboru-Ngala, Baga and several communities from the terrorists. He lost his life, after a failed attempt by the terrorists to capture Mallam Fatori, with four other gallant soldiers. They, however, neutralised fourteen of the terrorists, recovering a large cache of arms and ammunition from them.