Today, the 83-year-old Nigerian Imam Abubakar Abdullahi will be among four other nationals (from Sudan, Brazil, Iraq and Cyprus) to receive the first-ever International Religious Freedom Award of the United States Government. He is the Imam of Nghar village who hid 262 Berom Christians in his mosque and in his house in June last year when herdsmen launched a bloody attack on 10 villages in Barkin Ladi, Plateau State.
“Imam Abubakar Abdullahi 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.