The Story of Lt Col AH Ali, 4 Commanders, 12 soldiers who died in the hands of those they are protecting

By: Zagazola Makama

Indeed, Life's interplay of twists and turns, ups and downs, good and bad times, cold and hot seasons, humble and arrogant lifestyles, wade our souls into sweet or bitter ends.

Life is vanity, the holy book says. Molded out of clay and there we shall all return, dust to dust and nothing left but the memories of good or bad moments we created while alive.

In my mind's eye, I see nothing but vanity in all the powers, authorities, egos, hatred, bitterness, wickedness, wealth and riches that we pursue, acquire and revel in during our earthly race. One unifying moment and deepest mystery that defies all - high and mighty, rich and poor, strong and weak, kind or wicked - is death.

It encroaches unexpectedly but surely without fear of any status or position. My heart bleeds.

Nigerians and indeed the entire world have often heard or read about the horrifying attacks on Nigerians or Nigerians troops by Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists in the northeast region, but they have rarely heard or read about an attack on the Nigerian troops orchestrated by members of a community on Nigerian troops who were deployed to protect them.

The sordid event that took place in Bomadi Local Government of Delta State on March 14 2024, will forever tug at the heart. It was the story of how a community mobilized its youths to launch an unprovoked attack on troops of 181 Amphibious Batallion of the Nigerian Army, who are stationed in the area.

The troops had gone to broker a peace between the Okuama and Okoloba communities both in Delta State who were having communal crises. It was reported that the team led by the Commanding officer, Lt. Col. Ali, came under heavy attack by some youths in the community, leading to his death and that of two Majors, one Captain and 12 Soldiers.

Shortly after the attack, the whole community deserted the area, leaving their homes and properties.

It however, remained unknown the reason behind such senseless, inexplicable and unprovoked attacks on the troops by those whom they were on ground to protect.

*The gallantry of Lt Col Abdullahi Hassan Ali*

The story of the hard-fighting, ever-focused, result-oriented Lt Col Ali has not been told before now.

An officer of great courage, focus and determination with an uncompromising disposition, Lt Col Ali’s article of faith as a leader of his troops is the encouragement to be courageous in operations and to ensure that successes are achieved while all assigned tasks are accomplished.

Taken on the strength of 198 Special Forces Battalion on the 6th of October, 2020, Lt Col Ali is acclaimed for his commendable sense of responsibility in training, operation, administration and welfare of his troops.

His success-oriented style of command has always been his guiding philosophy while leading his unit in various successful clearance operations in the Northeast and down to the North Central region where he has operated.

On the very first day of January 2013, Lt Col Abdullahi Hassan Ali led his unit into the once notoriously impenetrable Timbuktu Triangle under the auspices of Op TURA TAKAI-BANGO. The mission was the total destruction of Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists’ enclaves which included Gorgi, Kafa, Abagajiri, Dusula, Buk, Manguzum, Gorgore Forest, among others. The operation in which his unit was complemented by troops of 134 Special Force Battalion, 199 Special Force Battalion and 402 Special Force Brigade, saw the total obliteration of the targeted enclaves, killing of scores of the terrorists and capture of assorted weapons including Gun trucks, General Purpose Machine Guns, etc.

In continuation of Op TURA TAKAI-BANGO, 402 Special Force Brigade was on 21 February, 2021, tasked to retake Dikwa and Marte from Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists.

In that operation, Ali exhibited extraordinary leadership, bravery and gallantry that ultimately led to the overwhelming success which saw the elimination of scores of the terrorists and capture of assorted weapons. Of course the ultimate mission of the operation which was the retaking of Marte was achieved.

Less than two weeks later, precisely on the 6 March, his unit alongside the Brigade cleared Missense and Chukun Gudu of terrorist elements while capturing over 20 AK 47 rifles, gun trucks, FN rifles and so on. A few days later he proceeded with his troops to clear Krenoa, Chukun Gudu and environ.

In furtherance of the Army’s offensive tactics, the 402 Special Forces Brigade was tasked on the 8 March 2021 to conduct clearance operations in Sambisa Forest. The indefatigable Ali was to yet again bring to bear his high sense of courage which he knew he needed to increase the morale of his advancing troops who were advancing to summarily destroy various BHTs/ISWAP enclaves. By the time the smoke of their superior firepower died down, enclaves such as Alafa 1 and 2, Njimia, Parisu, Somalia, Kuraba, Sabil Huda, Gobara and Dure, were cleared. Ali also showed heroic impacts in the other exploits which included the destruction of ISWAP fighters at Bulabulin and Alagarno in the general area of Damasak on 24 April 2021.

The officer was also tasked to recapture Kanama from Boko Haram/ISWAP fighters and to reinstate the unit in conjunction with 402 Brigade and 199 Special Force Battalion.

Lt Col AH Ali’s heroic exploits were not limited to the counterinsurgency operations in the north east. Having noted his exceptional bravery and brilliant command style, Ali was directed to conduct the movement of his troops to Kaduna and Niger States on 13 July 2021. The mission of the operation was to combat and clear some Bandit Camps and kidnappers' hideout under the auspices of Op DOMINION STORM in 1 Division of Nigerian Army area of responsibility.

The officer and his gallant troops conducted a clearance operation along Rijana and other Bandit camps, neutralizing several bandits in the process while a number of weapons including AK 47 rifles and 120 rustled cattle were recovered.

On 30 July 2021, Lt Col Ali led his troops within the Jaji axis at Malum Forest and cleared bandits from their hideout at Dunk, Rugan, Fringin. In that operation, about 4 bandits were killed while a number of AK 47, Magazines, assorted ammunition and communication radios were recovered. He also brilliantly conducted clearance operations at Rujana and cleared Kuso high ground in Kaduna State. Moving over to Niger State, he cleared a number of bandit enclaves and stabilized the troubled Rafin Local Government area.

The team's act of bravery and commitment influenced the defeat of the terrorists in the axis of Kuriga, Manini Chikun, Pole Wire, Birnin Gwari, Ungwan Namama, Kwalba, Rafin Dawa Dende,Ungwan Madaki, Buruku, Udawa, Doka, Maganda, Dogon Dawa, Sabon Layi-Kuriga-Maganda-Farin Ruwa, Sabon Birni, Kuyelo,Farin Ruwa, Damba to Kangon Kadi, Labi,Udawa river Apewohe, Dakwala and Kunai among others.

Along with his comrades in arms, Lt Col AH Ali has performed credibly well with courage and exceptional bravery, gallantly, aggressiveness with high professionalism in the face of danger while imparting same qualities to his officers and men under command. He is disciplined, highly committed, dogged and dedicated to duty, exceptional qualities that have continued to yield the overall successes which his unit have recorded.

Having completed his tour of duty at the North East, Lt Col Ali was redeployed to 181 Amphibious Batallion Division of the Nigerian Army, where he finally paid the supreme price.

A thorough-bred infantry officer, Lt Col Abdullahi Hassan Ali approaches military duties with diligence, patriotism and a sense of professionalism.

He was known for maintaining constant checks on all administrative issues and ensuring regimentation while ensuring that welfare of his officers and soldiers are top priority. He was indeed a result-oriented gallant officer worth celebrating.

Rest in Peace Hero

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