Nigerian president denies he’s dead
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Nigerian president denies he’s dead

Muhammadu Buhari quashes rumors he died and was replaced by a lookalike from Sudan

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the military staff annual conference, on November 28, 2018, as part of his trip to visit troops on front lines of Boko Haram conflict. (Photo by Audu MARTE / AFP)
Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the military staff annual conference, on November 28, 2018, as part of his trip to visit troops on front lines of Boko Haram conflict. (Photo by Audu MARTE / AFP)

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday quashed a rumor stemming from his ill health that he had died and been replaced by a lookalike impostor from Sudan, his spokesman said.

“It’s real me, I assure you. I will soon celebrate my 76th birthday and I will still go strong,” Buhari said as he met with the Nigerian diaspora in Poland, where he is attending the UN COP24 climate summit in Katowice.

He was answering a question from the audience about repeated claims — spread via tweets, Facebook posts and YouTube videos — that the leader of Africa’s most populous nation was an imposter called “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,” Buhari said, according to a statement signed by his spokesman Garba Shehu.

He referred to those who started the rumor as “ignorant” and “irreligious”.

Buhari, who is seeking re-election next year, spent a large part of 2017 in London for treatment for a serious illness, which has never been revealed to the public.

A lack of specific information about the illness, along with Buhari’s gaunt features and a reduction in public appearances have fed speculation about his well-being.

Claims about the president’s identity emerged a month after Buhari returned from another lengthy medical trip to London.

Those pushing the rumor were known critics of the president and his government.

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