Nigeria’s president has had to take the unusual step of denying that he has died and been replaced by a clone.
Muhammadu Buhari, who has disapeared for months at a stretch before, ressured supporters at a town hall event in Poland, where he was attending the UN Climate Change conference on Sunday, “It’s the real me, I assure you. I will soon celebrate my 76th birthday and I will still go strong.”
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
His office also circulated an email, titled: “It’s Real Me, President Buhari Responds to Cloning Allegation,” ahead of the speech.
In January of that year he traveled to London to have a persistent ear infection treated, according to officials. But then he disappeared for months. He finally reappeared in March, when photos of him in the Nigerian capital were shared by his official Twitter account.
But his long and unexplained absences (which have come to characterize his presidency since 2015) have only fueled rumors that something is amiss. Rumors that he’s been replaced, or cloned, have been eagerly picked up by people who oppose Buhari and his government.
The rumors have been amplified by a Twitter account apparently run by opposition leader Nnamdi Kanu.
Kanu claims that Buhari died months ago and has been replaced by a man from Sudan known as Jubril, or Jubril al-Sudani.
One of the earliest examples is this video, which tags Kanu and first suggests the name Jubril. A version of it has been shared thousands of times across Twitter and Facebook.
And Kanu has tweeted extensively about the apparent clone of the Nigerian leader.