MUHAMMADU Buhari, Nigeria’s President, has been forced t confirm he is alive and not a Sudanese clone, breaking his silence on a bizarre rumour that has circulated on social media for months.
Speaking in a town hall session in Poland on Sunday, where he was attending a conference, Mr Buhari said: “It’s the real me, I assure you. I will soon celebrate my 76th birthday and I will still go strong.” The Nigerian leader, who is running for re-election in February, spent five months in Britain last year being treated for an undisclosed illness. Rumours emerged late last year, appearing on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, claiming that he had been replaced by a lookalike from Sudan called Jubril.
Despite no evidence being presented, the videos making the claim have been viewed more than 500,000 times.
The rumour has been fuelled by high-profile individuals, such as Goodluck Jonathan, Mr Buhari’s predecessor, and Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of secessionist group Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob).
On Twitter, Mr Kharu posted photographes alleging that Mr Buhari can be seen writing with his right hand in one photograph and his left in another. Mr Kharu claims this “proves” he there is a body double.
The death of Nigerian diplomat Habibu Almy in May this year, further ignited the rumour.
The leader is running for re-election in February (Image: Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Mr Almy, who was “stabbed to death” in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, was linked to an apparent cover-up of Mr Buhari’s death by conspiracy theorists. But the Sudanese police claimed that his death did not appear to be politically motivated.
When asked about Jubril, his rumoured imposter, Mr Buhari described those spreading the rumours as “ignorant and irreligious”.
He added: “a lot of people hoped that I died during my ill health. Some even reached out to the vice-president to consider them to be his deputy because they assumed I was dead. That embarrassed him a lot and of course, he visited me when I was in London convalescing.”
A video of the President answering the question has been uploaded to his Twitter account and has received over 153,000 views.
The presidency has also circulated Mr Buhari’s comments in an emailed statement entitled ‘It’s Real Me, President Buhari Responds to Cloning Allegation’.
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