Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Thursday praised the 83-year-old Muslim Cleric, Abdullahi Abubakar, who saved the lives of hundreds of persons fleeing from attacks by suspected bandits in Yelwan Gindi Akwati, Swei and Nghar villages in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau, describing him as a hero.
The people were fleeing from attacks by suspected bandits, when he took them in at the risk of his life and that of his family.
Laolu Akande, spokesman to the Vice President said in a statement on Thursday in Abuja, that Osinbajo gave the commendation when he received the cleric at the Presidential Villa.
Alhaji 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, on 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.
Abubakar reportedly hid and rescued over 200 persons who fled from nearby communities, inside the mosque and in his personal house, until the attackers left.
Many of those the Muslim Cleric provided shelter for were from the Berom ethnic group which are predominantly Christians.
Reports indicated that Abubakar, on defending “my guests”, insisted that the attackers would have to kill him if they refused his pleas not to attack those he was hiding.
At a point, the Imam was said to be on his knees and then rolling o the floor to appease the attackers.
Describing Abubakar’s act as heroic, the Vice President said that the Imam had done so much more to promote peace by his singular acts than most politicians could do and so deserves all the commendation and high honour.
Prof. Osinbajo urged politicians to avoid using religion and tribal sentiment to create division among people, noting that Mr Abubakar had demonstrated to leaders that the way to resolve whatever conflict was not by violence, but a demonstration of love.
“Imam Abubakar has demonstrated one of the most courageous acts any man can possibly do, by offering his own life, for those who are not people of his own tribe.
“I have heard a lot of stories in our country, but this is one of the most compelling stories.
“The love an individual can show for others not from their own tribe or religion, especially in a society like ours where tribe and religion often come to play.”
The Vice President urged all Nigerians despite tribe and religion to eschew bitterness and embrace peace and harmonious living.
“It is far easier for people to create religious tensions between Christians or Muslims through their acts or words.
“And in a community where people have lived together in harmony and peace for so long, it shows how much a little of such tension created, in a matter of hours, can destroy harmony and peace built over the years.”
Before the attacks, the community had reportedly lived in peace.
In his remarks, Abubakar, who spoke through an interpreter, thanked the Vice President, noting that he did not want it publicised.
He said however, that he felt that God chose him to do what he did to be used as an example.
The Imam said he told the attackers at some point that they had to kill him first before harming his ‘guests’, that statement dissuaded them.
“I pleaded with the attackers in the mud and rain not to harm my guests.
“By God’s grace, no one was hurt. God created mankind differently but he wants us to live together in peace and harmony, and not harm each other. Such incident (the attack) is rare in my community, but I hope such does not happen in my village again,” he said.