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General News of Sunday, 25 December 2022


UPDATED: 'It is not funny' - Buhari says about rumour that he is Jibrin of Sudan

President Muhammadu Buhari President Muhammadu Buhari

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari says he did not find it funny that many of his country’s citizens believed the rumour that he was dead and had been replaced with a lookalike named Jibrin who was from Sudan.

The Nigerian leader spoke in a documentary shown Friday night at a private dinner in Abuja organised 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 somebody from Sudan. I didn’t bother with the name. Nigerians have mischievous ways of explaining themselves,” Mr Buhari said.

When asked if he found the rumour funny, Mr Buhari said: “No. It’s not funny. Because those who made those statements, they just want to be cheeky. They want to distract attention from the main issue.”

The rumour that the president had been replaced by a lookalike called Jibrin, from Sudan, gained notoriety during Mr Buhari’s first term in office when he spent months in a London hospital due to illness.

The rumour was made popular by Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

IPOB is a group leading the agitation for an independent state of Biafra, which it wants carved out from the South-east and some parts of the South-south Nigeria.

Mr Kanu, leader of the separatist group, was based outside the country at the time he popularised the rumour.

Old foesThe IPOB leader has been critical of Mr Buhari’s administration which he accused of bias for not addressing persistent herders-farmers’ crisis across the country, especially in the South-east and South-south regions.

The secessionist leader had also accused Mr Buhari, a Fulani, of backing attacks by suspected Fulani herders across Nigeria in a bid to Islamise the country.

Mr Buhari has since refuted the allegations.

Beyond the allegations, Mr Buhari was disturbed by the IPOB leader’s persistent calls for secession of the South-east and South-south region from Nigeria.

He was also said to have made “inciteful remarks” against the government and threatening the Nigerian people as well as the country’s security personnel in his broadcasts on a pirate radio, Radio Biafra.

Enraged, the Nigerian leader ordered the arrest of Mr Kanu in 2015.

The IPOB leader was granted bail in April 2017 on health grounds, but fled the country after an invasion of his home in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State, by the Nigerian military in September of that year.

He was re-arrested in Kenya and brought back to Nigeria in June 2021, about four years after he fled the country.

The Court of Appeal in Abuja, on 13 October, held that the IPOB leader was extra-ordinarily renditioned to Nigeria and that the action was a flagrant violation of the country’s extradition treaty and also a breach of his fundamental human rights.

The court, therefore,  struck out the terrorism charges filed against Mr Kanu by the  Nigerian government and ordered his release from the custody of the State Security Service.

But the government refused to release the IPOB leader, insisting that he (Kanu) could be unavailable in subsequent court proceedings if released and that his release would cause insecurity in the South-east.

The government, through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, appealed the court ruling and subsequently obtained an order staying execution of the court judgement at the Supreme Court.