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FILE PHOTO - Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaks during German President Joachim Gauck's visit to the State House in Abuja, Nigeria February 11, 2016. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde/File Photo

(reuters_tickers)

By Felix Onuah

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has delivered an audio message to mark the Islamic Eid al-Fitr holiday, two 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 in that part of the country. 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 his spokesmen declined to confirm it officially.

Details of the president's ailment have not been disclosed and he has not been seen or heard in public since leaving Nigeria, triggering speculation about his condition.

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

Pictures of the 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.

(Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Reuters