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Did US, UK, EU and AU representatives miss Nigerian President Buhari’s inauguration?

A message circulating online claims that the United States, United Kingdom, European Union, African Union and most of Nigeria’s former heads of government were not represented at the second term inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari on 29 May 2019.

It’s been posted several times, with minor variations, on Facebook and other social media.

One version reads: “Gowon, In His Own World. Obasanjo - absent; Jonathan - absent; IBB - absent; Shonekan - absent; Abdulsalam - absent; the representative of the US - absent; UK representative - absent; EU representative - absent; AU representative - absent. THE WORLD KNOW THAT BUHARI AND INEC STOLE ATIKU’S VICTORY. A HOUSE BUILT ON SAND WILL NEVER STAND.”

It’s accompanied by a photo of retired General Yakubu Gowon, one of Nigeria’s former heads of state, sitting amid reserved but empty seats at the inauguration.

A name tag visible in the photo indicates that retired Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, the de facto vice president during the 1985 to 1993 presidency of General Ibrahim Babangida, was meant to sit next to Gowon.

UK representative attended

While the US embassy in Nigeria observed a work-free day to mark the inauguration and congratulated President Buhari on Twitter, there is no indication the US ambassador or any of its top diplomats attended the event.

But photos tweeted by the UK in Nigeria show that British high commissioner to Nigeria Catriona Laing attended the inauguration with a number of other diplomats.

The photos were tweeted on the day on Laing’s Twitter handle. She also attended the state banquet after the inauguration.

‘World leaders to attend Democracy Day instead’

We found no evidence of African Union and European Union delegations attending the event. The Twitter handle of the EU in Nigeria made no mention of it.

The Nigerian government announced earlier that the 29 May inauguration would be low-key. The main activities would instead be held on 12 June, the new Democracy Day.

Lai Mohammed, the minister of information and culture, was quoted as saying: “World leaders will only attend the June 12 events.”


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