Buhari congratulates Imam who hid Christians during herdsmen attacks on US award

Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated Imam Abubakar Abdullahi on the reception of the International Religious Freedom Award from the US Department of State.

The 83-year-old Muslim cleric was presented with the award for harbouring several Christians who were fleeing from suspected bandits on June 23, 2018, in several villages in Plateau State.

The cleric refused to give them up when their attackers asked about their whereabouts, International Religious Freedom Ambassador Sam Brownback said at the awards ceremony in Washington on Wednesday.

President Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, in a statement on Thursday, said he was delighted at the award.

“On behalf of the Federal Government, President Buhari heartily congratulates Imam Abubakar on the well-deserved honour by no less a credible and formidable government agency of the United States.

“Like Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said, on May 30, 2019 at the State House Abuja when he received the Imam, the Village Head, Damafulul Mangai; community leaders and a delegation from the US, UK and European Union, the cleric ‘has done so much to promote peace by his singular act than most politicians could do and deserve all the commendation and high honour,’” the statement said.

The president said he was elated “that a Nigerian national has written his name in gold in the international arena”.

“He also strongly affirms the commitment of this administration to freedom of religion and worship for all Nigerians, as guaranteed by the Constitution, stressing that under no circumstance will any religion or faith be imposed on the nation,” the statement said.