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Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari delivers the first televised speech since returning home after three months of medical leave in Britain, in Abuja, Nigeria August 21, 2017. Nigeria Presidency/Handout via Reuters

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ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will pass through London, where he spent five months on medical leave this year, on his way home from the United Nations General Assembly, his spokesman said on Friday.

Buhari will depart for New York on Sunday, his spokesman said in an emailed statement. It will be the first time he has left Nigeria since returning on Aug. 19 from Britain, where he had received treatment for an unspecified ailment.

Spokesman Femi Adesina said Buhari would hold a lunch meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump and other leaders, adding: "President Buhari will transit through London on his way back to the country."

Buhari will be accompanied on the trip by cabinet ministers and the governors of three states.

The statement did not say whether he would have medical treatment in London, and the presidency was not immediately available for comment.

The refusal to disclose details of the president's illness has caused speculation about whether the 74-year-old is well enough to run Africa's most populous country and biggest economy.

Buhari was in London on medical leave for two months from January, and again from May 7 to Aug. 19.

After the first trip, the president reduced his working day to a few hours, diplomats and government sources said at the time.

Since the second trip, however, Buhari's office has released a flurry of photos and statements from his engagements, including meetings with his vice president, heads of the armed forces and economic ministers.

(Reporting by Felix Onuah and Alexis Akwagyiram in Lagos; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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Reuters