The US government has honored 83-year-old Muslim cleric – Imam Abubakar Abdullahi who hid 262 Christians in his home and mosque during an attack by suspected herders.

Abdullahi was awarded the 2019 International Religious Freedom Award alongside four religious leaders from Sudan, Iraq, Brazil and Cyprus.

According to the award organisers, Abdullahi is been recognized for providing shelter for hundreds of Christians who fled from Muslim herdsmen attack after a coordinated attack on Christian farmers in ten villages in the Barkin Ladi area of Plateau State on June 23, 2018.

The International Religious Freedom Ambassador, Sam Brownback said at the awards ceremony in Washington on Wednesday that Abdullahi refused to give up the Christians when the attackers asked for their whereabouts, instead, he stood outside the doors confronting the Muslim attackers, pleading with them to spare the lives of the Christians, he also offered his life in exchange for theirs.

” His actions bear witness to true courage, true selflessness and true brotherly love. Said Brownback.

The State Department, organisers of the award, given to advocates of religious freedom said, the 83-year-old cleric was ready to exchange his life for members of another religious community who without his intervention might have been killed, he called his action a selfless one.

Violence between the nomadic Fulani herdsmen and farmers who are predominantly Christians in Nigeria has been an ongoing issue since 2013.