An 83-year-old Imam, Abdullahi Abubakar, who hid 200 villagers during attacks on Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State was on Thursday praised for his courageous act.
Abubakar got the commendation from Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The VP called him a hero and an example of one who could put their own life at risk to save others.
Recall that on June 23, 2018, bandits attacked communities in Barkin Ladi.
Over 200 of them were said to have found refuge in a mosque in Yelwan Gindi Akwati village, Gashish District, where Abubakar is the Chief Imam.
He had insisted the villagers were his “guests” and prevented the bandits from killing them.
The cleric visited the Villa on Thursday in company with several community leaders and diplomats from the US, UK and the European Union.
The VP said, “I commend you for your wonderful act. Imam Abubakar has demonstrated one of the most courageous acts any man can possibly do by risking his life for those who are not people of his own tribe.”
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Mr Laolu Akande, quoted Osinbajo as saying that Nigeria would be a lot better if people would truly love one another and not on the basis of tribe, religion or ethnicity.
“When people have been wronged, it is always easier for people to accept that revenge or vengeance is the right approach. But as you know, vengeance breeds bitterness and hatred and doesn’t solve the problems created, but causes more deaths and harm.”
The Imam, in his remarks, said he was not looking for publicity when he rescued the villagers, but felt that God only used him to save their lives.
The cleric, who spoke through an interpreter, added, “I pleaded with the attackers not to harm my guests. By God’s grace, no one was hurt. Such an incident (the attack) is rare in my community, but I hope such does not happen again.”
Those on the visit with Abubakar were the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington; Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy in Nigeria, David Young; an embassy official, Kathleen Fitzgibbon; and the German Ambassador to Nigeria, Bernhard Schlagheck.