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Boko Haram: Nigerian Soldier Shares Stories Of Bravery, Resilience From The War Front (PT 2)

Tales of war heroes and the marks they left in the hearts of others. Remembering Captain M.M. Hassan and Lt. Col. Abu Ali; the uncertainty of the war front and the bravery of military medics.

In a series of insightful threads, Twitter user @Google_12point7 also identified as Left Lieutenant shared several heart-breaking stories of events and people from the war front.

Since 2009, Nigeria has been in a long war against the terrorist group, Boko Haram. This fight, having undergone several seasons, has resulted in losses and wins on both ends.

In the middle of the ongoing conflict, it is sometimes easy to gloss over the contributions and sacrifices of military personnel but Left Lieutenant’s accounts cause people to pause and ponder on the depth of service being rendered to Nigeria.

He wrote about Captain M.M. Hassan, fondly known as Sarkin Yakin Damboa (The King of war) who died in 2018.

“Captain M.M. Hassan was much more. Boko Haram Terrorists dreaded him to the extent that Shekau placed a 10 million Naira bounty on him.

“Hassan was tough as a nail. Two years after his death in 2018, I met a corporal in Gwoza, who drove him for most of his operations.

“The soldier was smiling all through and he said something that touched me – ‘Sarki dey smile every time. E talk say nothing worth person cry’ (Nothing is worth anyone’s tears).

“He said M.M. Hassan was the toughest officer he ever knew – ‘I happy say I pass through that Oga’,” Left Lieutenant narrated.

The soldier told him of an incident where Hassan fought through an ambush to rescue him, adding that after that he never thought Hassan was human till he died.  

On January 5 2018, Hassan died. He was hit by a detonated grenade in the midst of gunfight with terrorists.

In the spirit of remembrance, Left Lieutenant dived into a tale of his encounter with Lt. Col. Abu Ali.

The first time he met Ali, the latter was a major at the time. Left Lieutenant noted that he was very excited to meet Ali as stories of him abound.

He described the stories as folklore-sounding, like war stories brought to life.

“People talked of his sheer brilliance and sacrifice for his men. So, the first day I met him he actually came from Mallam Fatori to Maiduguri to collect supplies for his unit.

“Sounds strange. A Major? Coming to the city to take supplies for soldiers? This is not typical of senior officers. It is one task they would delegate. I was also surprised by his frame.

“Man was lanky and very quiet. But you saw the fight in him. He embodies the military song, ‘Small body, Big Mind’. He didn’t talk much.

“When he was leaving, after a brief discussion, he breathed, ‘We will win’,” Left Lieutenant narrated.

In 2015, Boko Haram carried out one of its bloodiest attacks in Baga, killing numbers “so much that it was covered up till today. As far as the battlefield is concerned, we would always credit Abu Ali for taking that town back.

“I woke up to a text on November 5 that the officer was killed in a dawn attack on Mallam Fatori. This was two weeks after I encountered him.

“His men eventually beat back Boko Haram but his death still cuts deep. During his procession, I saw generals cried. The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) wept.

“His death rocked the Presidency. He defined patriotism. May his soul continue to rest in peace. Amen. ‘In your words, we will win’,” he said.

Left Lieutenant also reminisced on his experiences in Rann in 2016. A tale he titled ‘Eyes from Above’.

“I was in Rann in 2016, before the mishap on the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). The Armed Forces maintain strategic outposts to protect the interest of the country.

“The one in Rann is one of such. Cut off from the country and so close to Cameroon, Rann is a flat land. You could see as your eyes would let you. A company of soldiers stay there, mainly as a buffer.

“When I got there, I confessed my fear that it was easy for BHT to overrun us. The Commanding Officer (CO) swore that BHT had never succeeded and would never succeed because of one reason.

“’The Airforce. We get eyes for up o.’ He talked about how Alpha Jets took out 8 gun trucks in April 2015 when BHT tried attacking them, he narrated.

He was told that Boko Haram will prefer to see 100 AA guns than to see one of those jets.

He wrote that anytime he sees the jets, he knows he is sleeping well that night and so on that particular night, he rekindled his love for tea.

“I was given lemongrass tea. Damn! I stayed awake all night. When my watch shone 11:45 p.m., I remember the CO pointing to the skies to a distant Beechcraft plane.

 “My sleep will be long today,” he thought to himself.

He rounded up this instalment of war front tales by sharing his admiration for military medics who he described as highly trained and thoroughly professional.

He called them ‘Khaki Angels’ and narrated one of their most touching endeavours.

“The Air Force established hospitals for IDPs in frontline communities of Dalori and Bama. Over 100, 000 patients are attended to on these facilities. In 2018, I witnessed a miracle in Dalori.

“An Air Force ophthalmologist performed 132 pterygium in a day. One of the women, Iya Kaka, wept when she was discharged days after. It was the first time she would see after 12 years.

“She couldn’t stop praying for the Chief of Air Staff.

“As we celebrate this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day, I pray for the safety of all military personnel as they carry on gallantly, doing this job – the most difficult job in the world. God bless you,” he added. 

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Anita Eboigbe

Anita Eboigbe is a journalist and data analyst with nearly a decade of media and communications experience in Nigeria. She has expertise in human interest reporting, data reporting, interactive content development and media business management. Anita has written for several national and international publications with a focus on communication for development. She holds an honours degree in Mass Communication and several certifications in data analysis and data journalism.

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