Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari says he did not find it funny that many of his countrymen believed the rumor that he was dead and replaced the Sudanese with a lookalike called Jibrin.
The Nigerian leader spoke in a documentary shown on Friday night in Abuja at a private dinner hosted by his family and associates to celebrate his 80th birthday. The event was tagged “Celebrating a Patriot, a Leader, an Elder Statesman”.
“Yes! People said I am someone from Sudan. I didn’t bother with the name. Nigerians have devious ways of explaining themselves,” Mr. Buhari said.
Asked if he thought the rumor was funny, Mr. Buhari said: “No. It’s not funny. Those who made those statements, because they want to be shameless. They want to distract from the main issue.”
Rumors that the president had been replaced by an ostensibly so-called Sudanese Jibrin gained notoriety during Mr. Buhari’s first term in office when he spent months in a London hospital due to illness.
The rumor was popularized by Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the outlaws Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
IPOB is the group leading the agitation for an independent state of Biafra, which wants to break out of the South-East and parts of South-South Nigeria.
Mr Kanu, the leader of the separatist group, was out of the country at the time he spread the rumour.
The IPOB leader has criticized Mr. Buhari’s administration, accusing it of bias in failing to address the persistent herdsmen-farmers crisis across the country, especially in the South-East and South-South regions.
The secessionist leader also accused Mr. Buhari of sponsoring attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen across Nigeria in an attempt to Islamize the country.
Mr. Buhari has since denied the allegations.
Beyond the allegations, Mr. Buhari was disturbed by the IPOB leader’s persistent calls for the secession of the South-East and South-South region from Nigeria.
He also said he made “inflammatory remarks” against the government and threatened the people of Nigeria as well as the country’s security personnel on a pirate radio station, Radio Biafra.
Angered, the Nigerian leader ordered Mr Kanu’s arrest in 2015.
The IPOB leader was granted bail in April 2017 on health grounds but fled the country after the Nigerian Army invaded his home in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State in September that year.
He was arrested again in Kenya back to nigeria In June 2021, about four years after fleeing the country.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja, on October 13, ruled that the IPOB leader was extradited to Nigeria and that the action was a gross violation of the country’s extradition treaty and a violation of his basic human rights.
The the court therefore dropped the terrorism charges The Nigerian government filed charges against Mr. Kanu and ordered his release from custody State Security Service.
But the government refused to release the IPOB leader saying that if he (Kanu) was released, he (Kanu) would be unavailable and would cause insecurity in the South East.
The government, through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, appealed obtained a judicial decision and then an order to enforce the judgment of the Supreme Court.
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