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by Ismail Akwei, at 05:00 pm, December 03, 2018, Opinion

Why Nigerians believe their president has been replaced by a Sudanese clone

For months, rumours had spread on social of the death of Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari and his subsequent replacement by an imposter from Sudan named Jubril.

Many Nigerians fell for the fake news which was widely peddled by opposition politicians as the country prepares for a general election in February next year in which Buhari is contesting.

It was reported to have been started by Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Biafran separatist organisation, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), who had said in a video that Buhari died in 2017 and replaced by Jubril who went through plastic surgery to be a Buhari lookalike. He alleged that Buhari was buried in Saudi Arabia.

The Jubril theories kept making the rounds on social media platforms and on Youtube with videos and pictures making comparisons between the president and his speculated clone.

Buhari’s ears, hands, height and face were compared and contrasted by many Nigerians fuelling the theories and drawing others into the conversation without any evidence.

Some of the Jubril theorists have demanded a DNA test to prove or disprove their claim which has been widely believed by many Nigerians.

The president addressed the speculations in a town hall session with Nigerians in Poland where he described the rumours as “ignorant and irreligious” when he was asked about Jubril.

“It’s real me, I assure you … I will soon celebrate my 76th birthday and I will still go strong … A lot of people hoped that I died during my ill health,” he said.

Buhari has spent about 5 months in Britain last year for treatment for an undisclosed illness which raised several suspicions and sparked demonstrations for him to give up power. He returned from the long medical leave to lead the government which was being managed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who was the acting president in Buhari’s absence.

This is the first time a rumour of an African president being cloned has surfaced.

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