The death of Lieutenant Colonel Muhammad Abu Ali on Friday, 4th November, 2016 touched many Nigerians especially in the role he played in the fight against insurgency in the North east.
Born on 15th August, 1980, Lt. Col. Muhammad is a recipient of the Chief of Army Staff Award for exceptional bravery and excellence after he led the army units that recovered Gamboru-Ngala, Baga and several communities from the terrorists and was given accelerated promotion over his peers.
He graduated from Command Secondary School, Jos in 1997 and was admitted into the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) in 1998. Ali was commissioned into the Nigerian Military in 2003 as an armour officer. In the course of his military career, he has served in Bauchi, Yobe and Borno states. Daily Trust spoke to some family members when it visited the family home located on Jabi road in Kaduna on Sunday.
There had been attempts on his life – Sister
“There have been several attempts on his life and they have always been ambushed, yet the military authorities still left him there until he was killed”, late Muhammad’s immediate younger sister Amina says as she mourns her brother.
Amina, who described her brother as a perfect gentleman, called on military authorities to reduce the number of years soldiers spend in the north east fighting insurgents, saying, “They get tired which may lead to their death.”
She said, “My brother touched many lives when he was alive, he was selfless and always thought of others before himself, his bravery should be remembered because he pushed hard against the insurgents to bring peace and security back to the country.”
Muhammad was a unifying factor in the family- Step mother
Mohammed is a son to all; this is a young boy who did not differentiate between anybody especially coming from a polygamous family. He does not differentiate between his own siblings and siblings from another mother. I hate to say ‘was’ when I am talking about him, but he was the unifying factor of this family,” Muhammad’s step mother, Hajiya Nana-Aisha said.
She recalled that, “During his marriage five years ago, even though his mother is alive, he decided to keep all the things for his marriage in my room, we used to even joke about it when he mistakenly keeps something for his marriage in his real mothers room, she will quickly bring it out and keep it in my room.”
She added, “When he was posted to Yobe state, he called me and told me that he had been posted to the war zone and asked me not to tell his mother. When he was again posted to Maiduguri in Borno state, he called me again and told me where he was in case of any emergency but also instructed me not to tell his mother, that is how close we were.
“He bought my son’s first bicycle when he was three-years-old, now he is 16 years and he took it upon himself to visit his sister, Halima (not the same mother) in Yola. He chatted with her few hours before his death. He was a religious person who preached peace and love, his love for everybody was obvious as he did not have a borderline, he was very fearful of God and he always wanted to please God.”
He was very religious- Elder brother
What can I say about Muhammad that has not already been said, he was a very religious person, he was always in the mosque praying and fasting. He never behaved like a military man, as he was always humble and quite. I am encouraged by what he did because at one time, I asked him if he was not overdoing it in the north east and he said ‘someone must do it’. I guess he decided to be that person,” Mohammed’s elder brother, Abdulaziz said.
Slim is a hero- Course mates
Slim, as we fondly called him is a hero, he was a very honest person. He has been a rallying point especially for members of the 50th Regular Course. We call him our boss when he was promoted, but did not want us to call him that. When he was deployed to the north east, he had no fear in him because he was optimistic that with the right equipment Boko Haram is “a small thing,” some of his course mates who pleaded for anonymity said during their condolence visit to the family.
Commenting on his death, they said, “Death will definitely come one way or the other, we are not happy, but we have accepted his death, he is a hero and he played a major role in the capture of most of the territories under the Boko Haram. There are risks involved and we cannot say because we were not there, it is his destiny to die in Maiduguri. Slim was a rallying point in our group chat and he will be missed gravely.”
Lt. Col. Muhammad Abu Ali is survived by his wife Samira, their three children Mimi, Abba and Yasmin, his father, the Estu Bassange of Kogi state, Abu Ali, his mother Hajiya Fatima, three other mothers and 20 siblings.
He is a member of the 50th Regular Course. He joined the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) in 1998 and was commissioned on September 27, 2003. He was described by his colleagues as a gallant and brave soldier. He participated or even led many major operations in the North East, including the liberation of Mubi and many other towns from the hands of Boko Haram.
He enjoyed an accelerated promotion from the rank of Major to Lieutenant Colonel and was decorated by the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General TY Buratai at Gamboru Ngala on 9th September 2015 during an operational visit. He did YOC Armour, YOC Infantry, Platoon Commander’s Course, Tank Auto Instructor’s Course, Junior Divisions Course, Scorpion Conversion Course, Command and Staff Officers Operational Skills Corps.
He participated in the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), United Missions in Darfur (UNMO), among others.