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Influential Leaders Say Nigeria Poll Should Go Ahead

FILE - Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan.

An influential body of Nigerian leaders says elections scheduled for February 14 should go ahead as planned.

The Council of State, an advisory body that is chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan and includes generals, lawmakers and former presidents, issued its decision after meeting in the Nigerian capital, Abuja on Thursday.

Some Nigerians have called for a delay because of slow distribution of voting cards and violence in the northeast where regional forces are battling Boko Haram militants.

Imo State governor Rochas Okorocha said participants in the meeting discussed those issues but also heard from Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. He said INEC - which holds the ultimate power to fix the election date - indicated it is "very, very ready to conduct the election."

The governor said the council "rules that INEC should inform the nation about their preparedness and proceed to conduct the election."

Ahead of the meeting, protesters and the opposition APC party had called for the presidential and parliamentary polls to take place as scheduled.

Jonathan and the ruling PDP party are facing a strong challenge from APC and its presidential candidate, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari.