October 11, 2022
The 86-year-old Muslim Cleric, Imam 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 State, was honoured by President Muhammadu Buhari.
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 Saturday June 23, 2018, on Yelwan Gindi Akwati, Swei and Nghar villages in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, where scores of persons were killed by suspected bandits.
Imam Abdullahi Abubakar reportedly hid over 200 persons, who had fled from nearby communities, inside the mosque and in his personal house, until the attackers left.
Many of those the Muslim Cleric rescued in that fateful day were from the Berom ethnic group which are predominantly Christians.
In a 2018 interview with The Punch, Imam Abdullahi Abubakar said he would continue to save lives as long as he lives, adding that Prophet Muhammed accommodated people of diverse religious beliefs.
“Prophet Mohammed worked with many people with different backgrounds. He preached to Christians, pagans and idol worshippers. He had a cordial and peaceful relationship with everybody regardless of their religion,” he said.
“So long as I am alive, I am ready to save lives, whether that of an animal or human beings. So long as it has life, I will save that life.”
Abdullahi’s heroic act has won him commendations and compliments from across the country with many celebrating him on the social media.
Narrating what actually happened on that day, the Islamic cleric said he would have been killed by the attackers but that they took pity on him for his old age.
“On that very day, the shooting started in Yelwa, about two kilometres away from our own village called Xland,” he said. “Around 3:30 pm, after the afternoon prayer, the people ran towards the mosque.
“Most of the people who trooped into the mosque are Christians. I accommodated them inside the mosque. We gave them cover.
“They (the attackers) came in their large numbers and started shooting indiscriminately in every direction. Whoever they see, they shoot at sight. I gambled with my life, because there was every tendency for them to attack me.
“I was threatened, and my life was in danger, I even fell down because of the confusion. But because they saw that I am an old man, they left me and went elsewhere.”
Now that the story of his heroic act has spread, Abdullahi insisted that he did not feel there was any threat to his life. “I am not under threat at all, I believe in God because He alone can give me protection and save my life.”
In 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari directed Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State to bring Abdullahi to the State House in Abuja for “a handshake and national honour” in recognition of his act of kindness.
“The President has told me to bring Imam Abdullahi Abubakar for a hand shake which will be followed by a national honour,” Lalong told an audience in Plateau State in July 2018.
“I was also preparing what to do for this man. Although he is already in his old age, God knows why he did it at that age for us to study and also know how to maintain peace, not only in Plateau State but in Nigeria in general.”
About 200 people were killed in the attack by herdsmen. The number could have been far more but for the courage and kindness of Imam Abdullahi.