Ali led one of the army’s fiercest-ever battles with Boko Haram, in February 2015, culminating in the recapture of Baga town in Borno state.
Sani Usman, army spokeman, said he was killed in an encounter with the insurgents on Friday.
The deceased 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.
Usman added that four soldiers were killed, but that troops killed 14 of the insurgents who attacked a location of the army in Borno state.
“Yesterday at about 10.00pm suspected Boko Haram terrorists attacked a 119 Battalion Nigerian army location at Mallam Fatori, northern Borno state. The troops fought gallantly and repelled the attack, killing 14 Boko Haram terrorists,” he said.
“Unfortunately, we lost an officer and four soldiers, while four other soldiers sustained various degrees of injuries during the encounter. One of those killed in action, was Lieutenant Colonel Muhammad Abu Ali, the Commanding Officer of 272 Task Force Tank Battalion.”
During The Cable’s investigative trip to the theatre of war, soldiers, majority of whom have built an unwanted reputation for always criticising the army hierarchy, spoke highly of Ali’s professionalism.
One of the soldiers, who partook in the Baga operation, narrated his experience to TheCable:
“In the case Baga, when it was recaptured from Boko Haram, Abu Ali, who led that operation, 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.”