First message from Nigerian President since May 7


Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari delivered an audio message to mark the Islamic Eid al-Fitr holiday, senior presidency sources said, his first public statement since he left for Britain on medical leave on May 7.

Buhari, a Muslim from the north, made the address, calling for peace and unity, in the Hausa language spoken widely there. It was circulated to local radio stations and the BBC’s Hausa radio service.

The presidency did not release video footage or photographs of Buhari making the recording heard by Reuters in which the president’s voice sounds weak.

Two senior presidency officials said the recording was Buhari but spokesmen declined to officially confirm it.

Details of the president’s ailmenst have not been disclosed and he has not been seen or heard in public since leaving Nigeria, triggering speculation.

A thin-looking Buhari was last seen, on state television, welcoming 82 girls released by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, just hours before he flew to Britain.

Pictures of 74-year-old Buhari have not been released, unlike during a previous break for medical leave in January that lasted nearly two months when photographs of him with Nigerian politicians and visitors including the Archbishop of Canterbury were posted on the presidency’s Twitter feed.

Buhari handed power to his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo when he left for Britain.