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Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Lt. Col. Muhammad Abu Ali: Exit Of “Panacea of Boko Haram” By Ifeanyi Izeze

Image result for Lt. Col. Muhammad Abu Ali
My  dear brother Mohammad Abu Ali, we weep for your death and for all those high quality officers and men killed defending our nation against the Boko Haram terrorists and Boko Haram politicians. Standing with other well-meaning Nigerians, we respect and honour you and others because without doubt, the level of your patriotism that made you willing to pay the ultimate price for this most ungrateful state and its people is unmatched. Your selfless sacrifices and unwavering love for your country will ever be remembered and your innocent blood shed will not go in vain. God will surely avenge you and many others killed at the various theatres.

Remarkably, the man Abu Ali was the Commanding Officer of the 272 Task Force Tank Battalion and was reputed as the army’s bravest commander and fighter in Nigeria’s ongoing anti-terrorism war. Last year, he bagged accelerated promotion for his gallantry and
efficiency on the battlefield. An expert in handling armoured tanks, Abu-Ali’s men dubbed him the ‘panacea of Boko Haram’ due to his unmatched bravery in uprooting terrorists.
This guy they have wasted was the officer that led the operation that recaptured Baga and Mongonu from Boko Haram in February 2015. Even recent successes in Sambisa forest, he led some of them. Ali, a major at the time, reportedly told the soldiers that they should not worry, that they should only do five percent of the job and 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. His gallantry at several other fronts brought him to the limelight of the Chief of Army Staff who granted him accelerated promotion to the rank of a Lt. Colonel in September 2015 after another rare success in the recapture of Gamboru-Ngala.
Now, without mincing words, the circumstances that led to the killing of the brilliant officer and his men could best be said to be unfortunate and at worst suspicious.
Let’s look at it: The Army leadership on Friday morning withdrew one officer and 49 combatants from Mallam Fatori thereby grossly depleting the troops at the forefront. The Boko Haram terrorists struck shortly after the troops withdrew.
So how do you explain that an officer and 49 of his men were withdrawn from Mallam Fatori in the morning of the fateful Friday only for Boko Haram to ambush the very few remaining troops that same day? Why were the officer and soldiers withdrawn in the first instance? Is it not curious that the terrorists had to strike that same day? Who ordered the troop withdrawal without a strategic plan to cover contingencies that might arise as a result of the gap created by such action?
Is it not clear that the terrorists possibly had advanced information of the reduction in the number of troops on the frontline around there?
In a recent interview in Abuja on the sideline of a two-day seminar on Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria themed “Assessing the Threat of Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria,” the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Yusuf Buratai, had raised alarm that some Nigerians are still supporting the Boko Haram insurgents as the military fights to bring an end to the over six-year insurgency. He blamed sabotage for the prolonged war against Boko Haram insurgency, saying some Nigerians are supporting them clandestinely.
Though the Chief of Army Staff did not say whether those Nigerians are within or outside the military, but as said by my highly respected colleague, the existence of a fifth column in the Nigerian Army is no longer news. Fifth columns pose a danger not only to their colleagues in the armed forces, but also to the security of the entire country.
The circumstances surrounding the death of Colonel Abu Ali and even the likes of Col G. C. Nwaeze amongst other brilliant and committed officers leaves many concerned Nigerians with lingering suspicions that there are enemies of Nigeria within our armed forces who have been sharing information with terrorists.
It is obvious now they are in all strata: top, middle level, and rank and files of our military and other security agencies. The recent arrest of Boko Haram collaborators reinforces these suspicions. Fighting terrorism with Boko Haram collaborators in the army is the biggest obstacle to achieving final and decisive victory over the Boko Haram bandit. Our armed forces must be purged of fifth columns urgently, or else, we should just stop wasting our time, resources and brilliant officers and men in this war on Boko Haram. We may really need to rethink this whole exercise against Boko Haram because if we don’t fish out these hidden deadly enemies no matter their position in the command and control structures of our security agencies, we may just be going round in circles.
President Goodluck Jonathan, though with his own peculiar laxity, raised alarm when he held sway about the presence of fifth columnists in our fight against Boko Haram. But for political motives, he was ridiculed and challenged to name them or keep quiet. The monster is now flying with wings, killing and maiming our highly trained and brave compatriots deployed at the various theatres against the insurgents.
Is there anything in this Boko Haram business that a majority of us do not understand? If these bandits are our common enemies, are we not supposed to work together in support of every effort to defeat and wipe them out of our land?
As said by the army chief, we need to work together and synergize together because it is clear that in Nigeria’s peculiar situation, these terrorists have melted into the society (military, paramilitary and even civil societies). We also have some highly placed elements still supporting them clandestinely. We cannot fold our hands and watch some of our best brains and gallant young men wasted senselessly. The killing of Lt. Col Mohammad Abu Ali - is it not one loss too many? God help Nigeria!

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