Muhammad Abu-Ali: War, Service and Death
The menace, Boko Haram, has cost not just Nigerians but people of other nations their lives since its onset. The Nigerian Army though in recent times have celebrated a lot of victories in the quest to end this menace, have also suffered losses.
The most recent has brought a lot of Nigerians to tears and to the realisation of the sacrifices and risks taken, and bravery of people out there, doing all that they can to ensure that we are safe and secure as we decide to go about our daily lives. Something which may have been taken for granted in recent times.
The death of Lt Col Muhammad Abu-Ali is one which shook the Nigerian Army and the nation. He was killed on November 4, 2016, during a mission in Mallam Fatori. Such a person who has paid the ultimate price – death- for the sake of others and their nation, deserve to have his story told.
This is in no way trivializing the sacrifices of others lost in battle, Abu-Ali’s story is peculiar. Having been very instrumental in the fight against Boko Haram and shown exceptional courage, Abu-Ali’s death comes as a huge loss.
I never knew Lt Col Abu-Ali in a personal capacity neither had I ever met such military personnel who has been highly spoken of. From the various comments and posts, not just by family but also by those with whom he fought with, we can say that he was indeed, a good man.
A profile on Muhammad Abu Ali shows that he was born on August 15th, 1980 in Lagos 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 January 25th, 2008, he got married and the union is 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 terrorists for his daring campaigns as Commander of the 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.
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 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 on 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 trails 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.
Ali’s elevation was not just the decision of the Chief of Army Staff or the rest of the army hierarchy; the soldiers fully supported it. According to a soldier who witnessed his “leadership qualities” in Baga, and two others who were with him in Sambisa, soldiers were generally “very happy for him”.
Soldiers who had fought with him had too many kind words about his person. He was described as selfless and even before his demise, one statement he was attributed to have made to his fellow soldiers was“If someone must die, let it be me”.
Abu-Ali paid the supreme price for patriotism, his life.
I thank you.
North- Eastern Nigeria thanks you.
Northern Nigeria thanks you.
Nigeria thanks you.
And to those in the frontline, we pray you come out victorious and you come back to us, alive most preferably, to celebrate your victories.