LONDON, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- It is vital that Nigerian elections scheduled for January are credible, said Henry Bellingham, the U.K. minister for Africa.
An independent election commission in Nigeria said the country would have presidential elections Jan. 22. Elections for the country's national assembly are scheduled Jan. 15 and elections for state offices are set for Jan. 29.
Bellingham in a statement from the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office said he welcomed the announcement but stressed how important the elections are for state development.
"It is vital that every effort is made to ensure credible elections so that Nigerian citizens have confidence in their democracy," his statement read.
Nigeria is tense in the months leading up to the January vote. The rebel Boko Haram group raided a prison this week, freeing more than 100 of its members, al-Jazeera reports.
The Nigerian government said rebel forces used "overwhelming firepower" during the attack.
Bellingham stressed that the January elections were an opportunity for Nigeria to show the world it has overcome political violence and corruption.
"As Nigeria celebrates 50 years of independence, this is a tremendous opportunity for Nigeria to set an example to others in all aspects of its new democratic system, including the all-important party primaries, which need 'internal democracy' to produce credible leaders and policies for a new era of civilian democracy," he said.