Abdullahi Abubakar is the 83-year- old Imam who saved 300 Christians, especially women and children during the recent killings of over 200 persons in Barkin Ladi and Riyom Local Government of Plateau State on June 23. In this interview with MUSA PAM in Jos, Abubakar who spoke in (Hausa) which was later translated in (English) told Saturday Telegraph that he was not afraid of the risk involved, because it was God who instructed him to do what he did, and God will not allow any body to harm him. Excerpts…
Could you give a brief insight into who you are?
Iam Abdullahi Abubakar, 83 years old. Iam the Imam of Nghar Village in Gashish District of Barkin Ladi Local Government of Plateau State. I was born in Kura Falls but later moved to Yelwa at an early age. I had two wives, and 20 children, one of my wives is from Berom ethnic nationality and six of my children are Christians while one of my wives is late now.
You recently saved 300 Christians in the Mosque including women and children and you are a Muslim what made you do it?
The reason why I protected and saved 300 Christians including men, women and children was as a result of an instruction from God given to me to protect every human being irrespective of religion or race. Prophet Mohammed worked with many people with different backgrounds. He also preached to Christians, pagans and idol worshippers. He had a cordial and peaceful relationship with everybody regardless of their religion, and the Qur’an has also instructed us to do same.
Have you in any way received a threat for saving the lives of Christians in the community?
I am happy about what I did and if any opportunity presents itself again, I will be glad to do it again. I have not yet received any threat to my life, but Iam not afraid of the risk involved, because God who directed me to save the lives of his creatures, will not allow anybody to harm me or harm me.
Could you explain what happened that resulted in the killings?
What happened that day was that we were preparing for prayers when we saw people from the neighbouring community running to us, saying that some attackers were pursuing them. So we had to stop all that we were doing to re s cue them. Actually, we don’t know the people nor where they came from. But myself and together with some youths in the community carried children and women who could not run into the mosque and some into my house. On that very day Around 3:30 pm, the attackers came in large numbers and started shooting indiscriminately in every direction. I was afraid for the people I hid, because there was every tendency they would be attacked. I was threatened, and my life was also in danger, But because they saw that I am an old man, they left me and went elsewhere.
Where are you from?
I am from Misau Local Government Area of Bauchi State. I enrolled myself in 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.
What do you think should be the solution to the killing and your advice to the Federal and State Government?
The Government should increase security presence in the area, make the road accessible as well as network for communication easily. I also advocate absolute peace globally; we should also be our brothers’ keeper. What you don’t like, don’t do it to other people. Religion is between individuals and God. Nobody has any certificate to go to heaven. Nobody is licensed to take the life of another person. God has instructed us 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 anybody.
Governor Lalong recently announced that he would take you for a handshake with President Muhammadu Buhari for what you did?
Have you met with him? Iam yet to be taken to see the President, but if I meet him I will tell him to do his best to increase security in the area and to help construct good road for accessibility to Gashish.
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