Imam Abubakar Abdullahi, has received the first-ever International Religious Freedom Award by the US Government, for hiding 262 Berom Christians in his mosque and in his house in June 2018 when herdsmen launched a bloody attack on 10 villages in Plateau State.
The 83-year-old Islamic cleric received the award alongside others from Cyprus, Sudan, Brazil and Iraq.
US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, confirmed that Abdullahi couldn’t make it to the main ceremony to honour him at the United States, but went on to read his profile at the event. He said, “another awardee who could not make it tonight, but I just have to read this about him.”
A statement from the US Department of State reads “Imam Abdullai selflessly risked his own life to save members of another religious community, who would have likely been killed without his intervention.
“On June 23, 2018, ethnic Fulani herdsmen, who are predominantly Muslim, launched coordinated attacks on 10 villages in Barkin Ladi, killing hundreds of ethnic Berom farmers, who are predominantly Christian.
“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.
“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.”