Meet The Nigerian Imam Who Saved 262 Christians in a Religious Riot

Meet The Nigerian Imam Who Saved 262 Christians in a Religious Riot

Meet The Nigerian Imam Who Saved 262 Christians in a Religious Riot

Imam Abubakar Abdullahi, Born in Bauchi State around 1936, the Imam has lived in Nghar for 60 years and led the Muslim community through the mosque, which was built on land provided by the Christian community. Imam Abdullahi’s courage in the face of imminent danger and his history of outreach across religious divides demonstrates his lifelong commitment to promoting interfaith understanding and peace. Another awardee who could not make it tonight, but I just have to read this about him,” Brownback said during the event.

Back home in July last year, President Muhammadu Buhari also directed the Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, to bring to him the Fulani Chief Imam of Akwatti Mosque in Barkin Ladi Local Council for a presidential handshake and a national award for saving the lives of over 200 natives during the attacks. Describing the incident as a rare feat, Buhari urged other Muslims and the locals to emulate the good gesture because saving the lives of several Christians by a Fulani Muslim “is not a joke”.

“As Imam Abdullahi was finishing midday prayers, he and his congregation heard gunshots and went outside to see members of the town’s Christian community fleeing. Instinctively, the Imam ushered 262 Christians into the mosque and his home next to the mosque. The Imam then went outside to confront the gunmen and he refused to allow them to enter, pleading with them to spare the Christians inside, even offering to sacrifice his life for theirs. Although the gunmen killed 84 people in Nghar village that day, Imam Abdullahi’s actions saved the lives of hundreds more.

His actions were certainly risky and could have cost him his own life, but during a recent interview with the BBC, the Imam humbly admitted that he wanted to help because more than 40 years ago the Christians in the area had allowed the Muslims to build a mosque. The Imam was one of the five people honored with the special award this year.

Imam Abdullahi, during the attacks in the night, dared the attackers by locking the doors of the Mosque after the Christians had entered while he stayed outside. When the trigger-happy assailants came and ordered him to open the doors so that they could go and slaughter the refugees inside, he refused, telling them that they could do that only after they had killed him.

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Here are few facts about the heroic Imam Abubakar Abdullahi:

  • Imam Abdullahi was born in Bauchi State around 1936 and has lived in Nghar for 60 years.
  • After living in Nghar for 60 years, He’s leader of the Muslim community in a mosque that was built on land provided by the Christian community.
  • He was announced as one of the recipients of the 2019 US International Religious Freedom Award.
  • Imam Abdullahi Abubakar, who is Hausa and the Chief Imam of a mosque in Yelwan Gindi Akwati village, in the Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State, alongside his assistant Umar Abdullahi, who is Fulani, saved the lives of over 200 persons when suspected bandits attacked communities in the LGA.
    • The reported attack took place on June 23, 2018, in Yelwan Gindi Akwati, Swei, and Nghar villages in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State, where scores of persons were killed by suspected bandits.
    • On the day of this incident, Imam Abdullahi was said to have just finished midday prayers, he and his congregation heard gunshots and went outside to see members of the town’s Christian community fleeing. Instinctively, the Imam ushered 262 of them into the mosque and into his personal home next door.
    • Abubakar Abdullahi hid 262 Berom Christians in his mosque and in his house in June 2018, when herdsmen launched a bloody attack on 10 villages in Barkin Ladi, Plateau State.
    • According to news reports, the mosque is now the home and refuge of those hidden by the Imam.
    • Many of those the Muslim Cleric provided shelter for were from the Berom ethnic group which are predominantly Christians

       

      Many people have commended Abdullahi’s courage in the face of imminent danger and his history of outreach across religious divides as this shows his lifelong commitment to promoting interfaith understanding and peace.

      However, reports gathered in 2016, suggested that Nigeria’s pastoral conflict was the cause of more deaths that year than Boko Haram. Violence between the nomadic herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria’s middle belt dates back to 2013. Hundreds of people have been killed in 2018, and the tit-for-tat violence has been ongoing for several years.

      Had the imam not intervened, the death toll may have been much higher, as the armed men stormed into the mainly Muslim village in pursuit of those who had fled the mainly Christian village nearby.

 

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