Unspoken regrets of Sarkin Yaki Abu-Ali’s fall
As encomiums and tears continue to pour in for the late Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Abu-Ali, the Commanding Officer of the 272 Tank Battalion, reputed to be the bravest of the Nigerian soldiers fighting the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast, the minds of many are, however, agitated by some regrets.
When a well coordinated attack in the night of Friday, November 4, 2016, on a military location (119 Battalion Nigerian Army) in Mallam Fatori, one of the known remaining strongholds of the Boko Haram terrorists, the celebrated Sarkin Yaki (lord of war) was said to be killed alongside four other soldiers, with the same number sustaining various injuries, the Operation Dole in the entire Northeast was thrown into unprecedented mourning.
The spokesman of the Army, in confirming the death of the Kogi State-born petit sized fearless patriot recalled that, “because of the late senior officer’s exceptional bravery and gallantry, he was given 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 September 9, 2015 during an operational visit,” where he was lifted shoulder high by his colleagues, who sang his praises.
The history of the Boko Harm insurgency itself is couched in a selfish desire by a political elite to have an ‘army’ of loyal dissidents, at the beck and call, to unleash chaos, if and when their interests are threatened.
Interestingly, two prominent individuals in the state, Senator Ahmed Zannah (now deceased), then a senator representing Borno North Senatorial District and member of then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Senator Ali Modu Sherif, a former governor of the state and then member of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), traded blames as to who was the supporter of the group.
“The invitation of the two prominent citizens from the state by security agencies over their roles in the formation, funding and activities of Boko Haram further exposed the government corruption in the crisis. Their desperation to exonerate themselves is a further testament to their possible complicity,” Yushau Shuaib, who is well established in the Nigeria security structure, said while writing on ‘Boko Haram and Political Elite in Northern Nigeria’.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan also affirmed that that the insurgents had infiltrated the government. In fact, during the period, a serving senator was arrested, a judge was sacked and some security personnel were investigated for their alleged involvement with Boko Haram. Thus, instead of arresting these suspected sponsors cum collaborators, it was downplayed, because of the political convenience or otherwise of the period.
This gives credence to the recent statement by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, while delivering a lecture at the Harvard School in the United States that the previous government was not committed to ending the Boko Haram debacle.
This was compounded by the corruption that bedevilled the polity. The deliberate undertaking of the military leadership to procure unserviceable military hardware and platforms. Unpatriotic as it was, most of the procurement, if done at all, were either fairly ‘road worthy’ or not appropriately fitted for the assignment at hand.
The pinnacle of the reign of terror by the insurgents was the avoidable abduction of the more than 200 Secondary School girls from a school in Chibok.
So far the insurgency in the Northeast, adding up statistics from the 2015 Global Terrorism index, has killed nearly 30,000 people, both of the security forces and civilian stock, displaced more than 4 million people, rendered more than 2.5 million inhabitants homeless and ophaned thousands of children.
The death of one of the most courageous military officers serving in the Army in the hands of Boko Haram on Friday night further exposed these mute regrets that characterise the needlessness of the protracted Operation Lafiya Dole, which the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Gabriel Olonisakin had said was 100 per cent over.
Besides the politics of regionalism, chocked in ethno-religious sentiments, the military hardware is said to be inadequate both in quality and quantity, as well as the activities of unpatriotic elements in the fold of the Army. These elements are known to leak information to the insurgents on the movement of troops.
A soldier said before the assailants’ bullets killed Lt. Col. Abu-Ali, prince of the Bassa-Nge community, Kogi State, nearly 50 Soldiers that were back up at the Army location were withdrawn to another location.
A day after the terrorists attacked the Mallam Fatori location and overwhelmed them in numbers. It was in the courts of withdrawing to get backup that he fell.