July 23, 2021

Muslim villagers beg Government to fix roads for displaced Christian neighbors

Gindi Akwati - Exland road, through unbridged river in Barkin Ladi LGA, Plateau State

Muslim villagers in Plateau State, Friday pleaded with government to fix “dilapidated” roads in communities displaced by violence.

This would reduce security threats and motivate survivors who fled their homes for safety, to return, Mr. Abubakar Abdullahi, 85, said.

“There is practically no road to come or go out of this village (Gindi Akwati),” said Abubakar, during a visit by the Plateau State Peace Building Agency, Jos.

“When there is a threat,” said Abubakar, an Islamic Cleric who shielded over 400 Christians in his Mosque and home during an armed invasion in Nghar village, in June 2018, securities find it hard to intervene due to the bad roads. “Sick people, pregnant women and others in need of quick medical care also miss out or experience delays because of the road,” he said.

Peace Building Officials with Muslim leaders in Gindi Akwati Mosque where over 400 villagers were shielded during armed invasions in June 2018

This the cleric said might be partly responsible for the slow return of displaced Christian villagers to their ancestral homes. “Perhaps fixing this road will make them to come back soon, so we can resume life together,” he said.

According to Abubakar, he slept on the ground till daybreak on the night of the armed attack on Christians in the village, while the shielded villagers occupied his house.

Abubakar laid on the floor, pleading with the armed assailants to spare those he’d shielded, eyewitnesses say. “He told the attackers to kill him before touching any of us,” said a woman who was saved with her four children. But his decision to lay his life for his neighbors was borne from long mutual relationship shared with the natives. “That was my little way of reciprocating the good times we’d shared in the community,” he told the visiting Peace agency officials.

Peace Building Agency Officials dress Mr. Abubakar in new royal robe in Nghar, Gindi Akwati villa, Friday

Mr. Joseph Lengmang, the Director General of the Peace Building Agency, presented Imam Abubakar with a “commendation” letter from the Plateau State Governor, Mr. Simon Lalong. He equally gave him a Hausa native royal robe for the PPBA as well as copies of a U.S. magazine that featured the Imam’s “heroism”, sent by the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria.

“Government in Plateau State, Nigeria and in different parts of the world are still proud of your heroic role during those attacks,” Lengmang told the cleric.

Plateau State has witnessed series of attacks, but is gradually returning to its peaceful days, said the Peace Agency’s Boss. This, he said is sequel to the exemplary roles of Imam Abubakar, urging him to keep inspiring communities to embrace peaceful coexistence.

The agency has had several meetings with the Imam, as well as accompanied him to several recognition ceremonies within and outside Nigeria. It has equally identified and encouraged others who have offered refuge to people from opposite backgrounds during armed conflicts. An example is a Christian community leader in Gyel, southern Jos, who shielded 13 Muslim youths during religious uprisings last October.