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Nigeria's president rejects rumors of his death

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari addresses a gathering at Krakow, Poland, on December 2, 2018.

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has denied claims spread on social media that he has died and been replaced by a double.

"It's real me, I assure you. I will soon celebrate my 76th birthday and I will still go strong," Buhari told fellow Nigerians at a town hall gathering in Poland, where he was attending a conference.

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.

— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) December 2, 2018

It was widely rumored on videos posted on YouTube and Facebook that Buhari, who had spent five months in Britain last year being treated for an undisclosed illness, had died and been replaced by a lookalike from Sudan named "Jubril."

"A lot of people hoped that I died during my ill health," he said, adding that those who spread the rumor were "ignorant and irreligious."

Meanwhile, Takfiri militancy persists as a main security issue in the country. Attacks by the once-weakened Boko Haram militant group seem to have gained momentum in the country's northeast in 2018, pushing into towns and villages in the restive Borno and Yobe states northeast of the country it had previously lost to the Nigerian military.

Buhari, who rose to power in 2015 pledging to wipe out militancy, is running for re-election in February.

A former army general who became the first opposition candidate to defeat an incumbent at the ballot box, Buhari hails from the Muslim-dominated north of Africa's most populous country.

His critics say the 75-year-old is ill and unfit for office and his administration is not taking the necessary actions needed to restore security in the troubled northeast of Nigeria.

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