The Islamic cleric who saved as many as 300 helpless Christians from death during the killings in Plateau state, has spoken out on why he did it.
Eighty-three-year-old Imam of Nghar village in Gashish District, Alhaji Abubakar Abdullahi, tells FRIDAY OLOKOR how he saved over 300 persons majorly of who are Christians from being killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen
What motivated you to save the lives of over 300 persons, mostly Christians during the attack on your community by suspected Fulani herdsmen?
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.
How did the attackers come and how did the rescue efforts take place?
On that very day, the shooting started in Yelwa, about two kilometres away from our own village called Xland. 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.
What was the reaction of the attackers?
They 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.
Do you consider yourself safe now because of this gesture and have you been receiving threats since that day?
I am not under threat at all, I believe in God because He alone can give me protection and save my life.
Will you render the same assistance and save lives if there is a similar occurrence in future?
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.
Before this incident, did you have any premonition that God was going to use you to save 300 lives?
No. What happened was just the will of God. I had no premonition and God knows why it happened that way for me to be used to save lives of such a huge number of people. It is beyond my own understanding, I never had any sign that such would happen.
What is your advice to people who may be in a position to assist the way you did?
People should obey God and follow due process in whatever they do. They should ask God for more strength to continue to do good. For those who go astray, let God turn their lives and their minds to do what is right.
What do you think is the solution to the persistent face-off between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in the Middle Belt?
I advocate absolute peace globally; we should also be our brothers’ keepers. What you don’t like, don’t do it to other persons. Religion is between individuals and God. Nobody has any certificate to go to heaven. Nobody is licensed to take the life of another person. We should learn to value human lives, don’t tamper with my life, I won’t tamper with your life. Whether Christian, Muslim, pagan, Berom, Fulani, Yoruba or Igbo, let us value human lives first. If you value human life, you won’t have the mind to kill somebody.
Have you witnessed any type of attack as serious as the recent incident?
I have never experienced such a terrible situation as this in my life. The recent ugly incident is unprecedented.
What is your state of origin and how did you come to Plateau State?
I am from Misau Local Government Area of Bauchi State. I enrolled myself in the Quranic School, and thereafter, my father took me to Yelwa in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State where he was an Imam. My father engaged in mining activities and farming. After his death, I was appointed in place of my father and that was how I became the Imam to lead people in prayers and do things in line with Islamic doctrines and injunctions. Let me add this, I left home when I was 25 years old. That was during the administration of Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and the Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir, Ahmadu Bello, in the First Republic. I got married then. One of my wives is from Berom ethnic nationality and six of my children are Christians.
How many wives do you have and how many children?
At present, I have only one wife; but before, I had three wives, two of them are dead. I’m now with only one wife. I have 20 children and many grandchildren.
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