Lagos: Nigeria`s main opposition party claimed on Sunday that security agents had ransacked its office in Lagos, arresting workers and seizing documents, in the latest flareup ahead of February elections.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) said 28 workers were arrested during the raid on its data centre in Lagos early Saturday, which the party likened to the Watergate burglary in the United States in the 1970s.
"Over 50 security operatives drafted from Abuja blocked the two major street entrances to the APC data entry centre, pulled down the gates, and spent over two hours ransacking and vandalising the centre," APC spokesman Lai Mohammed told AFP.
"More than a dozen computers were destroyed. The server was also vandalised along with other equipment in the building," he said.
"Saturday`s attack is another one in the string of attacks and illegal actions of the PDP-led administration," Mohammed said, referring to President Goodluck Jonathan`s ruling Peoples Democratic Party.
He described the raid as the worst political scandal in Nigeria`s history and likened it to the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of US president Richard Nixon in 1974.
"Just like the Watergate scandal in the USA, the state-sponsored security operatives apparently acting at the behest of the ruling PDP government turned the office upside down, and pulled out and vandalised everything in sight," he said.
He called for an independent inquiry to find those responsible for the raid, which came on the day the APC warned the government against a plan to arrest the speaker of the House of Representatives after he quit the ruling party for the opposition.
Speaker Aminu Tambuwal was also tear-gassed on Thursday as police tried to prevent him and other lawmakers from entering the chamber.
The State Security Service (SSS) confirmed the raid on the APC office, saying it was investigating an alleged cloning of voters cards currently being issued by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) for next year`s general elections.
"The petition alleged that those behind the activities were cloning INEC permanent voters cards, with the intention of hacking into INEC data base,corrupting it and replacing them with their own data," the SSS said in a statement.
"Based on this information, the Service placed the building under surveillance and having been convinced that some unwholesome activities were going on in the building, it undertook a raid of the premises," it said.
In the process,arrested were nade and a server, three hard drives and 31 bags of hard copy documents were taken away for further investigation, it added.
Tensions are rising in the runup to the February elections in Africa`s most populous country, which has a history of electoral violence and irregularities.
The International Crisis Group warned on Friday that the vote might be "volatile and vicious" and advised that "an increasingly violent" political climate must be checked to avoid widespread unrest.