Muslim Religious Leader Who Saved 300 Christians Fleeing Deadly Radicals to Receive Nigerian Honor

Protesters gather during a demonstration against Fulani herdsmen killings, in Abuja, Nigeria March 16, 2017.
Protesters gather during a demonstration against Fulani herdsmen killings, in Abuja, Nigeria March 16, 2017. | (Photo: REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde)

A Muslim religious leader will be honored for saving close to 300 Christians from Fulani herdsmen who wanted to kill them.

83-year-old Alhaji Abdullahi Abubakar, A Nigerian imam from the village of Nghar in Plateau State, is set to receive on Wednesday a national honor from President Muhammadu Buhari for his actions on June 24.

"I hid the women in my personal house and after that, I took the men into the mosque and hid them there," Abubakar explains in an article in The Eagle Online.

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The Christians, who have been slaughtered in mass this past year in Fulani raids, sought refuge from the armed radicals, who invaded 15 communities on that day.

When the Fulani arrived at Abubakar's house, however, the imam claimed that the people inside were all Muslims, leading the herdsmen to move their search elsewhere.

BBC News earlier reported that the herdsmen strongly suspected that the Christians had been sheltered by the imam, but still he did not allow them entry, despite fears they might burn down the mosque and his house.

Abubakar even prostrated himself on the floor in front of the radicals, crying and wailing, demanding that they leave.

And while the Fulani did agree to leave, they set two nearby churches on fire.

Simon Lalong, Plateau State governor, said that the imam will receive "a handshake and national honor" from Buhari.

"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," Lalong said.

"What he did not only saved the people of Barkin Ladi LGA, not only Plateau State but I think the whole of this country because 300 lives is not a small number," he added.

"So, Alhaji Abdullahi Abubakar, only God will reward you for what you have done."

David Young, the deputy chief of mission at the United States Embassy in Nigeria, also hailed the imam's actions as heroic.

"Those who work for peace do not belong to one group or another, they are not just Muslims or Christians, they are individuals who give up their lives for goodness and fight evil," Young said.

Some Christian leaders, such as Bosun Emmanuel, the secretary of National Christian Elders Forum, have warned that Christians, who make up close to half of Nigeria's population, could be wiped out by 2043 if the widespread massacres continue.

"Realistically speaking, Christianity is on the brink of extinction in Nigeria. The ascendancy of Sharia ideology in Nigeria rings the death toll for the Nigerian Church," Emmanuel said.

"In 2018, we can say in 25 years from now, we are facing the risk of being the last Christians in Nigeria. Therefore, Christians should be in the frontline of defending democracy in Nigeria," Emmanuel urged.

Follow Stoyan Zaimov on Facebook: CPSZaimov

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