Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday denied claims that he had died and been replaced by a Sudanese clone, Reuters reported.

Buhari is running for re-election in February and spent five months in Britain last year undergoing treatment for an undisclosed illness. His absence prompted conspiracy theories from social media users as well as a few political opponents to say that the president had died and been replaced by a lookalike called Jubril.

At a meeting with Nigerians in Poland on Sunday, Buhari refuted the rumours and called the people spreading them “ignorant and irreligious”. “It’s the real me, I assure you,” he said. “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.”

According to the president’s spokesperson Garba Shehu, Buhari was responding to a question from a Nigerian who wanted to know if the president was real or the much talked about ‘‘Jubril from Sudan’’.

Buhari also uploaded on Twitter a video of him from the town hall meeting.

Buhari said that some political opponents had even reached out to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, asking him to be their deputy because they assumed that the president was dead. “That embarrassed him [Osinbajo] a lot; we discussed it when he visited me while I was convalescing,” said Buhari, who was elected president in 2015.