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Nigeria Opposition Senators Warn Against Plot to Sack Electoral Chief

FILE - Nigeria's electoral chief and academic Attahiru Jega attends a meeting with staff from the Independent National Electoral Commission in Abuja, March 17, 2011.

Senators from Nigeria’s main opposition party have expressed concern about reports suggesting that the government plans to force the nation's top electoral official to go on vacation, in an effort to scuttle the March 28 election.

The call by the All Progressives Congress comes amid growing tension around the electoral showdown between incumbent Goodluck Jonathan and his challenger, Muhammadu Buhari.

The contest between Jonathan, of the People's Democratic Party, and Buhari, of the All Progressives Congress, is turning into the tightest and most competitve campaign since the country returned to civilian rule in 1989.

News reports have suggested that pressure is growing on Attahiru Jega, the chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, possibly in an effort to delay March 28 vote.

The commission already delayed the vote once last month, a decision that prompted an outcry among opposition groups.

Senator Ibrahim Musa, of the All Progressives Congress, says the opposition party will not accept any attempt by the ruling People’s Democratic Party to undermine the electoral commission.

"Let us tell the whole world that this is the plan of the Jonathan administration that they want to remove Jega to make him not conduct the March 28 and April 11 elections,” Musa said. "That is why we the APC senators felt very much concerned."

His comments follow reports that a new chairman of the electoral commissioner would be appointed to take over after Jega is sacked or forced to go on vacation.

Government officials, and the commission itself, has denied there was any campaign to remove Jega.

“The rumored sack of Jega is not from the presidency but part of the propaganda by the opposition to soil the good name of the president, to discredit the government and cause trouble," Nigerian media quoted the presidential office as saying.

Ruling party supporters, meanwhile, accused opposition parties of worsening tension ahead of the election, and demanded senators provide proof that supports their allegations.

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