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Africa

‘It’s the real me’: Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari denies dying and being replaced by a clone in response to wild conspiracy theory

  • A popular theory on social media is Muhammadu Buhari died while seeking medical treatment in the UK and was substituted by a lookalike from Sudan called Jubril
PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 December, 2018, 7:16pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 December, 2018, 2:59am

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has denied claims he died and was replaced by a Sudanese impostor, breaking his silence on a rumour that has circulated on social media for months.

“One of the questions that came up today in my meeting with Nigerians in Poland was on the issue of whether I‘ve been cloned or not,” he wrote on Facebook. “The ignorant rumours are not surprising — when I was away on medical vacation last year a lot of people hoped I was dead.”

Buhari, who is running for re-election in February, spent five months in Britain last year being treated for an undisclosed illness.

One theory widely aired on social media – and by some political opponents – was that he had been replaced by a lookalike from Sudan called Jubril.

No evidence has been presented, but videos making the claim have been viewed thousands of times on YouTube and Facebook.

“It’s the real me, I assure you. I will soon celebrate my 76th birthday and I will still go strong,” Buhari told Nigerians in Poland on Sunday, where he was attending a conference, when asked about Jubril.

“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,” he said, adding that those who spread the rumour were “ignorant and irreligious”.

The Nigerian leader said he was looking forward to celebrating his 76th birthday on December 17 and jocularly added: “If I am getting harassed by anyone, it is my grandchildren, who are getting too many.”

The presidency circulated Buhari’s comments in an emailed statement entitled “It’s Real Me, President Buhari Responds to Cloning Allegation”.

A video of the president answering the question, which shows his colleagues laughing as the question is read out, has been posted to the president’s Twitter account, which is followed by 1.76 million people, where it is pinned as his top tweet.