Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has denied claims that he had died and was replaced by a Sudanese impostor.
He made an announcement on Sunday to shoot down the conspiracy that has been circulating on social media for many months. He is running for re-election in February 2019.
Per a news article by Business Insider, Buhari spent five months in Britain in 2017 to receive medical treatment for an undisclosed illness. Because he kept his illness a secret, rumors began spreading on Nigerian social media that during his time in Britain, he was replaced by a lookalike from Sudan called Jubril.
The conspiracy theory was not only limited to social media but some of his political opponents also added fuel to the fire by declaring the narrative true.
Although there has been no evidence to support the theory, there are some videos circulating on social media that have been viewed thousands of times on YouTube and Facebook.
Fed up of the theories, Buhari finally decided to break his silence on the matter while addressing his fellow countrymen in a town hall session in Poland — where he went to attend a conference.
“It’s real me, I assure you. I will soon celebrate my 76th birthday and I will still go strong.”
During the address, he also added that although a lot of people had hoped that he died during his illness, he has survived. He further said that those who spread the rumor that he is not the real Buhari are “ignorant and irreligious.”
Per the Business Insider report, Nigeria’s presidency circulated Buhari’s comments in an email statement and titled the email, “It’s Real Me, President Buhari Responds to Cloning Allegation.”
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. The ignorant rumours are not surprising — when I was away on medical vacation last year a lot of people hoped I was dead. pic.twitter.com/SHTngq6LJU— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) December 2, 2018
Using his Twitter account, he also said that Nigeria’s Vice President — Professor Yemi Osinbajo — had to deal with the rumors and some people reached out to him to confirm that Buhari is dead.
“That embarrassed him a lot; we discussed it when he visited me while I was convalescing,” he said.
In response to his tweets, Nigerians from across the globe showed mixed reactions. While many believed him and showed their respect to the president, others refused to believe that he is still alive.
“As silly as this sounds…that its not our president…I suggest a simple DNA test / bone marrow scan to authenticate both his age & identity…this sets this matter to rest for all time & removes all controversy [sic],” one person suggested on Twitter.
While another person was of the view that Buhari shouldn’t have addressed the matter while attending the conference in a foreign land as the conspiracy is “disrespectful” to Nigeria.
With due respect your excellency sir, this is disrespectful to Nigeria n Nigerians addressing issues u ought to have address at home in foreign land. This rumour of u be cloned has been on for sometimes which u fail to address or say anything about it,— Adebayo Syl (@thejoda01) December 2, 2018
Muhammadu Buhari has been the president of Nigeria since 2015. He served in the Nigerian Army as a major general and also ruled the country as its president from December 31, 1983, to August 27, 1985, after taking power in a military coup d’état.