Nigeria's military authorities announced Friday that the first presidential elections in nearly a decade would go ahead as planned today, despite a ruling from the nation's highest court that the voting be postponed.
The authorities said the high court in Abuja, the capital, had no right to preside over the conduct of the elections. The vote will be held as scheduled, they said, despite allegations that the election already may have been marred by fraud and vote-buying.
Nonetheless, the decision late Thursday night by Justice Bassey Ikpeme has suddenly altered the political landscape.
Uncertainty reigned Friday as the excitement that normally precedes elections appeared to evaporate.
Nigeria's state radio also announced Friday night that the government was expelling Michael O'Brien, the director of the U.S. Information Agency here, for what it called his "blatant interference" in Nigeria's internal affairs.
According to the government, O'Brien issued a statement early Friday saying that the postponement of the elections today "was unacceptable to the United States government."