Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday described the 83-year-old Muslim Cleric, Imam Abdullahi Abubakar, who saved 300 Christians from being killed in Plateau state as a hero, deserving honour.
The Imam saved the Christians by hiding them inside the mosque when suspected bandits invaded Yelwan Gindi Akwati, Swei and Nghar villages in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State last year.
Osinbajo showered encomiums on the cleric at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, when he received him; the Village Head, Damafulul Mangai, other community leaders and a delegation which included diplomats from the US, UK and the European Union.
Describing Abubakar’s act as heroic, the Vice President noted 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.
He urged politicians to avoid using religion and tribal sentiment to create division among people.
He said Imam Abubakar had demonstrated to leaders that the way to resolve whatever conflict is not by violence, but by a demonstration of love.
“I commend you for your wonderful act, Imam Abubakar. Yours is one of the most courageous acts any man can possibly do, by offering your own life, for others especially those who are not of your tribe or faith. This is one of the most compelling stories I have heard. The love an individual can show for others not from their own tribe or religion,” he said.
Osinbajo urged all Nigerians despite tribe and religion to eschew bitterness and embrace peace and harmonious living.
The Vice President further said the Federal Government would look at further ways to improve the communities in Barkin Ladi, and others affected by ethnic/religious crisis.
Abubakar, as well as his deputy, Alhaji Umar Abdullahi, were recently honoured by the US Embassy in Nigeria, for the heroic deeds.
In his remarks, Abubakar, who spoke through an interpreter, thanked the Vice President, noting that he didn’t want this to be publicized, but 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, he added.
“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.
The visit was at the instance of the US deputy Chief of Mission and those on the delegation were the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington; Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy in Nigeria, David Young; another senior US Embassy official, Kathleen Fitzgibbon; and the German Ambassador to Nigeria, Bernhard Schlagheck.