Saturday, September 19, 2020



TRIBUTE: Abu Ali, ‘intelligent’ lieutenant-colonel who ‘doesn’t brag’ but is killing off Boko Haram in Borno

TRIBUTE: Abu Ali, ‘intelligent’ lieutenant-colonel who ‘doesn’t brag’ but is killing off Boko Haram in Borno
June 17
11:14 2016

Muhammed Abu Ali is the name. You may have heard about him before: he is the officer who was granted accelerated promotion from rank of major to lieutenant-colonel in September 2015, for his courageous performance in a series of the army’s engagements with Boko Haram.


His elevation was first announced shortly after one of the army’s fiercest-ever battles with Boko Haram, in February 2015, culminating in the recapture of Baga from insurgents. But the official decoration was delayed until September when, after another monumental success — the capture of Gamboru-Ngala — Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff, visited the war front.

During that decoration, Buratai praised Ali for his “courage, bravery and exceptional performance in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorists”.

Tukur is not alone in his opinion; and it has now emerged that even soldiers, majority of whom have built an unwanted reputation for always criticising the army hierarchy, have tremendous respect for Ali’s professionalism.



For all of the army’s hardline public relations tactic, discontent is high among soldiers and officers DIRECTLY involved in the ‘Operation Lafiya Dole’ (peace by force) in Borno state. But as Ali’s example shows, good work and truth require no trumpet; they always find their way to the public.

During TheCable’s recent investigative trip to the theatre of war, the first mention of Ali came at a time a sergeant was complaining about the crude equipment and archaic manner with which the army was prosecuting the war.

“Yes, the problem is that the Nigerian army still has this archaic idea of fighting, relying more in the numerical strength of its troops rather than on equipment,” he had said.


“There is nowhere in the world, a civilised or modernised army, where they want to lose soldiers in large numbers again, and that is where you need these equipment.

“If you have good equipment, it will reduce the number of casualities on your side but if the weapons are not there and you want to use the number of your soldiers, then definitely you are going to suffer casualties.”

He then cited the example of the recapture of Baga, but he was quick to recognise Ali’s “brilliance” in its success — even though the original intention was not to praise the officer.

“In the case of tanks, what one tank can do, 200 soldiers cannot do it; 300 soldiers cannot do it if the tank is functional and serviceable,” he said.


“In the case Baga, when it was recaptured from Boko Haram, the officer who led that operation, Abu Ali, a major at the time, told the soldiers that they should not worry, that they should only do five percent of the job, that he was going to do 95% of the job with the tanks.

“And that was exactly what happened. He did most of the work with the tanks. He was a major at that time and his promotion after the operation was automatic because he performed very well. One smallish guy like that o.

“After they recaptured Baga, the soldiers were so happy that they raised him up, telling the president to elevate him to the status of colonel, not even lieutenant-colonel, because he really performed; he tried. Even recent operations in Sambisa Forest, he led some of them.”


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”.


“He led us with the T-72 when we advanced to Monguno and Baga, and he collected those places,” he said.

According to Wikipedia, the T-72 is a Soviet second-generation main battle tank that entered production in 1971. About 20,000 T-72 tanks were built, making it one of the most widely produced post-World War II tanks, second only to the T-54/55 family.

There have been at least three upgrades to the tank, the most popular being in 1988 and 1995, although they are unavailable in Nigeria.

A second soldier who extolled Ali’s virtues said: “After he collected those places [Baga and Monguno] in 2015, they brought someone else to replace him and they took him to Sambisa area; we went with him to Sambisa.


“He is a brilliant fighter. When he began hanging his promotion emblem officially on September 9, we were together on that day and we were all very happy for him.”

A third soldier, who had spent time with him in Sambisa, went as far as touting him as a potential helmsman of the army: “The man is very active; very active. And he is a very calm and intelligent person. He doesn’t brag, he knows his job and he is very simple.

“He is a future chief of army staff, if I may say, but he has to be wary of the corruption that is the shortcoming of many good hands in the army.”


It is interesting to know that Muhammed Abu Ali is the son of Colonel Abu Ali, who was governor of Bauchi state from August 1990 to January 1992 during the military regime of Ibrahim Babangida.

At this rate, no one would want to bet against the younger Ali surpassing his father’s achievements. He is already a lieutenant-colonel and should he continue his anti-Boko Haram heriocs, it won’t be long before he earns another elevation to the status of colonel, which his father was before retiring.

From then on, anything — just anything — is possible!


  1. warrrrrr
    warrrrrr June 18, 00:50

    Simply the best. A friend. A brother. A colleague. A mentor. God will continue to uplift you sir!!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Remi
    Remi June 18, 16:19

    This is very heartening news. In those dark days when Boko Haram was seizing territory after territory, and the only response from our army was complaint that they did not have arms – although, we now know that the very arms that Boko haram was using came from the armoury of our own army – I kept asking myself, where were officers of the calibre of Shuwa, Adekunle, Mohammed, Haruna and Buhari? War is fought with a combination of “Will”, “Wits” and “Wares”. Col. Ali has demonstrated that with the will (“moral component”), and a brilliant application of wits (“conceptual component”), it is possible to overcome a seemingly invincible enemy, who is purportedly better armed than our own army. Interestingly, and very sadly too, it was a Brigadier, a whole Brigadier, who lost Baga and a Major, and an “ordinary” one, as they would say – although this one is not ordinary – who recaptured it. More grease to your elbows, and all your joints, Col. Ali. Bless you.

    Reply to this comment
    • FortB
      FortB June 18, 19:10

      The question you may wish to answer is that: Did the Brigadier have those T-72 Tanks that Ali used to liberate Baga? Just asking o. Would Major Ali have been able to defend Baga without those tanks?

      Reply to this comment
  3. Kollington
    Kollington June 18, 18:30

    Refreshing news. Good to know that we still have some good, intelligent & courageous officers who can take on our enemies without complaints. Congrats on your well-deserved promotion Col. Ali.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Leczy
    Leczy June 18, 23:05

    His father BRIG-GEN Abu ali gallantly survived the 3 years Nigerian civil war.he was commandant armourd corps centre and school Bauchi and also commanded 15 ECOMOC Brigade Liberia .He is today HRM (Brig-Gen) Abu Ali the Etsu Bassa-Angeles kingdom Gboloko Bassa local government Kogi state. Lieutenant Col mohammed Abu ali inherited the leadership quality from his father.proud of him

    Reply to this comment
  5. Sriman
    Sriman June 19, 21:04

    You guys are exposing him and his family, even pin pointing his home and family to the Boko Haram. Okay oh.

    Reply to this comment
  6. JIL
    JIL June 20, 21:21

    The intention of the writer of this piece is very good but to what end? This kind of writeup is necessary only at the end of the fight against the insurgents. The gallant officer (and his family) are unnecessarily exposed for the possible enemy’s attack.
    We sincerely pray that the Lord will protect the officer and his household in Jesus’ name.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Kamba
    Kamba June 21, 00:37

    Your comment..Col.Mohammed Abu Ali is the only brilliant and hard working military officer in an entire boko haram operations in the northeast of Nigeria.Money was not his problems like his colleagues such as Col.HASSAN,Col.Suleiman, and col.Anafuro Nazi and other corrupt Generals who collected millions of naira from boko haram sponsors. We wish Col.Ali to take over from Tukur Buratai as Nigeria’s number one army chief.

    Reply to this comment
  8. yetty
    yetty June 28, 08:02

    it would have been good if the guy’s identity and his family information had been hidden.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Sani Rabiu
    Sani Rabiu November 05, 18:36

    i heard the death of this hero,i asked Allah to grant him a paradise ameen!

    Reply to this comment
  10. gambo Sidi
    gambo Sidi November 06, 01:34

    Your comment..innalillahi wa inna,ilaihi raji,un, May Allah grant late lt col mahd abu ali aljannatul firdaus bi jahi nabiyy sallallahu alaihi wa sallam, Ya Hayyu Ya Kayyum Ya ZuljalalI Wal Ikram & May Allah give his family the foretitude to bear this irreparable long, ameen, for as a soldier he had not only attained the most highly respectful

    job but had paid the supreme sacrifice that his country had ever expected from him.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Najume
    Najume November 06, 08:53

    Your comment..May Allah grant him Aljannah Firdausi, ameen. Rest in Peace!

    Reply to this comment
  12. Ahmed Moahmmed murtala
    Ahmed Moahmmed murtala November 06, 10:42

    Innalillahi wa inna,ilaihi raji,un, May Allah grant late Lt col Moahmmed Abu ali aljannatul firdaus bi jahi nabiyy sallallahu alaihi wa sallam, Ya Hayyu Ya Kayyum Ya ZuljalalI Wal Ikram & May Allah give his family the foretitude to bear this irreparable long,

    Reply to this comment
  13. Doxology, DIKKO M A.
    Doxology, DIKKO M A. November 06, 15:10

    This is a very Sad News of year, I shed tiers Profusely for the demise of this young and Vibrant Soldier. I pray to God almighty to admit him in Aljannah,. For the rest of the Army that lost their lives, may Allah forgives them also. For those still in the battle field, May God give you the Strength, zeal and Courage to Conquer the Enemies of this Great Nation.

    Reply to this comment
  14. Adedayo
    Adedayo November 06, 17:25

    I salute you, our gallant soldier! Thank you for the great work you did.

    Reply to this comment
  15. Nigerian Army
    Nigerian Army November 06, 18:47

    may Allah protect all the Nigerian Army and protect all the Nigerian amen.

    Reply to this comment
  16. Deemade
    Deemade November 06, 18:52

    M.A Ali was a gallant soldier with an exemplary behaviour, that all his life is to protect the integrity of his father land Nigeria, he died as a hero, the army family will continue to remember him and also pray for his courage to come down to the mind of its colleagues, may God Almighty protect the Nigeria army and the country in general.

    Reply to this comment
  17. murtala kurna
    murtala kurna November 07, 11:09

    Hero is always hero,there is special reward for those who save for humanities,iam very sure that you are among them insha Allah,and aiso that your effort to serve for people will ne ver be in vain,may your soul repose in jannatul firdaus

    Reply to this comment
  18. Hero
    Hero November 07, 22:15

    May Allah SWT forgive him and may Aljanna Firdausi be his final abode Ameen.You are truly a hero

    Reply to this comment
  19. Prince
    Prince November 08, 08:52

    As Col. Ali was Boko Haram’s nemesis in the battlefront so also did this original news article about his feats become his own nemesis afterwards. He became the primary target of the insurgents after the publication by the media and now he’s a dead man! Thanks to TheCable.

    Reply to this comment

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