The Nigerian Army has lost a Lieutenant Colonel and six soldiers in a fierce battle between the military and Boko Haram in Borno’s northern town of Malam Fatori.
According to Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj Gen Lucky Irabor, he said the incident happened when the troops of the 119 Battalion of the Nigerian Army at Malam Fatori fought to repel Boko Haram during an encounter with the terrorists on Friday about 10pm, killing at least 14 of the insurgents.
“It is sad that we lost an officer and six soldiers during an encounter and operation to clear Boko Haram in Malam Fatori on Friday night,” Irabor told newsmen in Maiduguri Saturday shortly after handing over the newly rescued Chibok girl, Maryam Maiyanga to Borno government.
A statement earlier by the army spokesman, Colonel Sani Usman named the Lieutenant Colonel killed in the attack as Muhammad Abu Ali, who until his death last Friday night, was the Commanding Officer of the 272 Task Force Battalion recently promoted by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai.
“It will be recalled that because of the late senior officer’s exceptional bravery and gallantry, he was given accelerated promotion from the rank of Major to Lieutenant Colonel by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai at Gamboru-Ngala on 9th September 2015 during an operational visit,” Usman said in the statement.
The army spokesman said troops recovered arms cache including one General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) and seven AK-47 rifles among others.
The officer was repeatedly hailed by his troops and commended for his humane disposition to soldiers working with him.
Nigerians took to social media to express their grief over the death of Lt. Colonel Abu Ali as news of his demise in the battle against insurgents broke on news portals and other traditional media.
In a Facebook post, Jaafar Jaafar, said that the death of the colonel, whom he described as one of the most valiant officers of the Nigerian Army, rattled him.
His words: “I’ve been in deep agony since the announcement of the death of this brave soldier and war tank aficionado. Ali played a prominent role in the recapture of Baga town by the Nigerian troops.
“Late Ali, alias Sarkin Yaki (a Hausa title that means lord of war) was a daring officer who also played a major role in the recent successes recorded in the fight against Boko Haram.
“ I call on President Muhammadu Buhari to personally sign a condolence letter to the late Ali family for their son’s dedication to service.”
Similarly distraught, Muhammad Nuruddeen noted that he shed tears each time he looked at the faces of the young soldiers losing their lives in the course of protecting the people of the northeast.
“It’s really sad. To me, this goes beyond condolence. The government should come with a scholarship scheme that would be a special fund like Tetfund and PTDF for the children left by these gallant soldiers.
”This is the only way to pay back the sacrifice of these young soldiers. Please our legislature, the media and all of us should stand up to ensure our government comes up with this scheme, please,” Nuruddeen said.
Fully agreeing with Nuruddeen’s suggestion that a special scholarship fund be created for the children of the late colonel, Hassan Adamu Alhassan stressed that “his immediate family shouldn’t be neglected by the federal government” in view of the great sacrifice Ali made for the country.
Khalil Ibn Ali also urged the president demonstrate his appreciation of the sacrifice of the late gallant officer by sending personal condolence letters to the families of all the late soldiers who lost their lives protecting the sovereignty of the country.