The Inec postponed the presidential election planned for 14 February late on Saturday night after national security adviser Sambo Dasuki said the government could not guarantee its security.
Military personnel, he said, were being redirected to the fight against Boko Haram and would not be available to safeguard the poll, which will now take place on 28 March.
“While we support Nigeria in its struggle against terrorism, the security situation should not be used as a reason to deny the Nigerian people from exercising their democratic rights,” the UK Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, said in a statement.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said security concerns should not be a “pretext” for slowing elections. The Inec chairman has publicly insisted his decision was not coerced.
But there is scepticism among Nigerians that the six-year war with Boko Haram should pose such a delay. “If Iraq can hold elections during an insurgency why can’t we?” one Lagos resident said.
John Odigie-Oyegun, chairman of the APC party, called the move “highly provocative” in a statement on Saturday, while advocating a calm response from its supporters.