Nigerian activists have been calling for Maurice Iwu to be replaced
Nigerians have welcomed acting President Goodluck Jonathan's decision to remove the much criticised election chief Maurice Iwu.
Opposition Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora told the BBC that his removal was "the beginning of electoral reform".
Mr Iwu presided over the last election in 2007, which was widely seen as chaotic and fraudulent.
The US recently doubted whether Mr Iwu could organise a credible election next year and called for him to be replaced.
Nigerian activists have long called for him to go and the country's newspapers are celebrating his departure.
'Year's best news'
Mr Jonathan has committed himself to pursuing electoral reform.
Caroline Duffield, BBC News, Lagos
For years, people have growled for Maurice Iwu's head. Blood on the campaign trail, stolen votes, and political thuggery marked his tenure.
The approach of elections in 2011 - and the likelihood of yet more rigging - turned cries for his dismissal into screams, and then into a roar.
The US openly called for leadership change at the election commission, Inec. Nigerians deserve better, said the assistant secretary of state. Mr Iwu was grubbing Nigeria's image, and he had to go.
But the election chief's removal is not the passage of the full electoral reforms many Nigerians pray for. If their votes are to hold meaning, Goodluck Jonathan will need to transform the electoral system from the ground up.
It will be difficult task in a political culture soaked with money and corruption.
"Elections in Nigeria from now onwards will be free and fair," he said recently in a BBC interview.
Mr Iwu's term as chairman of Inec was due to end in June 2010.
Senior lawyer Chief Emeka Ngige told the Vanguard newspaper that "it is the best news for the year".
"We only hope that the person that will replace him will be 100% better than Iwu," he said.
The BBC's Chris Ewokor in Abuja says his premature departure could be a symbolic move by Mr Jonathan to make him appear serious about electoral reform.
Mr Jonathan recently visited the US and his decision to remove Mr Iwu will also be popular with the Obama administration.
However the real indication of whether or not Mr Jonathan is serious about electoral reform will come when Mr Iwu's replacement is chosen, our correspondent said.
The selection of Mr Iwu's replacement would not be made by the acting president alone, Mr Mamora said.
The National Judicial Council would draw up a shortlist of three names, which would then be discussed by Mr Jonathan together with the National Council of State, he said.
Mr Jonathan has said a civil servant would run the Independent National Election Commission (Inec) until a permanent replacement was found.
Mr Iwu has had a colourful career.
He once announced at a medical conference in the US that he had discovered the cure for the Ebola virus - a claim which later proved to be untrue.
Mr Jonathan is standing in for President Umaru Yar'Adua, who is sick and has not been seen in public since November 2009.
Mr Yar'Adua was elected in 2007, although legal challenges to the result lasted for months afterwards.
Thanks for your comments. Please read a selection below:
This is a beautiful five steps of ten to intoxicate election mal-practices rather corruption and to a successful free and fair election in Nigeria. The seventh steps is, the 36 states electoral commissioners also to be sacked, eight and ninth the contestant then finally the votee. I salute you mr Ebele
Jacob Jonah Addi, Billiri Gombe Nigeria
In Nigeria, what we have is SELECTIONS not ELECTIONS. Sacking Iwu is a very good move. We need to criminalise election malpractices, starting from voters registration to actual voting. We can not have free and fair elections when we have multiple registration. I mean look at the case of multiple registration revealed in Edo State governorship election tribunal. The person of Augustus Aikhomu, a FORMER VICE-PRESIDENT. It is crazy. You know you are going to jail for election malpractice, you might just hesitate.
John Edegbe, Benin City, Nigeria
The sacking of Iwu, though welcome, is not enough. This should be followed with the adoption of Justice Uwais report on electoral reforms and the appointment of a person with integrity into the position of the INEC chairman. Then we can say it is Uhuru.
Dr Enabulele, Lagos,Nigeria
its a pity that Mr Iwu didnt serve his country as expected, he accept the post for one reason only, to enrich himself, but he did not understand that whatsoever one sow he will reap, good one mr president, i wish mr maurice will live his rest of life in regret bc he fails many people esp the Igbo people he is nothing but a pure disgrace to entire world..
Okosisi n' Oraifite, Ezumeri Oraifite
Mr Iwu did not drop from the sky. He came from the same breed of Nigerians/Africans imbued in corruption, fraud and thievery all of which have contributed in making Africa continue to remain the Dark Continent and the bedrock of misery. It would be a miracle if Iwu's replacement would not be an exercise of jumping from the fry pan to the fire. It is not as if there are no honest Nigerians though. Let us just pray that God guides the process of choosing a replacement - if God is not on leave in a Nigeria where religious proliferation has not stopped criminality from growing faster than religion.
Chief Bisong Etahoben, Yaounde, CAMEROON
The entire psychic of Nigerian society is militarized. Prof Iwu is not the problem. All Nigerian political parties hire thugs, use local vigilante groups and acquire heavy arms for their youth wing to intimidate voters, harass opponents and snatch ballot boxes during after elections. It is all about quota system, before election selection has already been made. After election the selection is announced. In Nigeria, there will never be a free and fair election until there is rule of law, security and food on the table for the common man. we are merely deceiving ourselves.
Jubilation! Celebration!! What???. This action while superficially golden and timely, everyone one involved in the political panorama in Nigeria really needs to come a trivial commonsense of "decency and fairplay". Even 10% will do for a start but that's a tough one. The political system has entrenched corruption and one effective change is to denounce corruption and force it to its knees. Politics and political positions in Nigeria is a personal business enterprise. No matter how "holy" before, the ultimate dream is to enlarge the "business" with colluding "associates". I am waiting to be appointed the chairman, then call or write me after the 2011 elections and tell how I am doing. Placards and protests or cheers? Don't bank on any.
Emmanuel Ogor, Waterloo, Canada
Sunshine of hope is beginning to shine in Nigeria again. Iwu's removal is a sign of hope to our people. the search for his replacement should not be a problem. I have made my self available for this task. If I am giving opportunity to do this work, I can assure the politicians that the days of rigging is over. Mean while congratulations Mr Goodluck Jonathan.
Emenike Nnanna, Abuja Nigeria
Removing Iwu is just one thread in the cloth. what of the state commissioners?, what of the politicians? and their thugs and armed militia? what of the police who allow themselves to be used? Iwu is just the visible face of a corrupt electoral system. what of the justice system and the players in this whole election show? What of the legislators who refuse to pass legislation beneficial to the country but detrimental to their personal aspirations e.g. FOI Bill. i could go on and on. Now Iwu is gone let us see who will be appointed. this appointment will prove that it's not "the same of the same". I nominate Wole Soyinka, Ayo Obe, Joe Okei-Odumakin, Olisa Agbakoba in fact even Festus Keyamo. Arise O compatriots!!
Gillian, Lagos, Nigeria
The removal of Iwu is only half the story; the story will be complete when we know who his replacement is going to be.
If the politicians are serious about electoral reform in Nigeria, they should publish and adopt wholeheartedly, the recommendations of Justice Uwais panel on electoral reform in Nigeria including but not limited to publicly advertising the vacancy for the chairmanship of INEC and removing the power to appoint the key staff of INEC, including the commissioner from the presidency-how can a president who is a candidate in an election, have the powers to appoint the umpire in that election .
Chukwuanugoekpere, Nnewi, Anambra State, Nigeria
I woke up this morning the day seemed brighter, the atmosphere was calm... I wondered what was happening. Then when I say the papers it hit me. IWU SACKED!!!!!!!!!!!....This is the best news of the year. The man made an already bad situation worse. His sack is like the removal of an aching tooth. Well done Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
Tayo, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Nigeria is full of educated people and I know corruption has taken place many of times but forget Iwu, he is another bump in Nigeria's long road! So dust yourselves off, try again and get ready for more! Remember every Dog has its day and Mr Iwu is having his, don't stop praying for his salvation.
Toi Fokuo, Saint Paul, USA
It is too early for celebration and back slapping. The real indicator of Goodluck Jonathan's seriousness on electoral reform will be when he appoints a credible, reputable, incorruptible and impartial person as Iwu's successor. Come to think of it, why not appoint a retired Supreme Court Justice?
Ahmed Bako, Zaria
Good move. The BIG problem has always been loyalty to whoever put them their. I stopped voting because the peoples votes count no more. I nominate Prof Wole Soyinka as his replacement. We need somebody who is not a politician. If you really wanna know those waiting to embezzle Nigeria's wealth, lets nominate Prof Wole Soyinka for the post.
Tolu Duro, Middletown, USA
Iwu should have known that the fall of a dry leaf is a warning to the green one. He is receiving what he ordered for. Nigerian pay well!
Ngele joe, Obagaji, Nigeria
There is actually nothing to celebrate at the moment, late Sani Abacha once removed our perceived enemies of progress from offices, he later become our worst enemy.
Valentine Mascot Akhere, Salt Spain
Shame on you Mr Maurice Iwu. I regret attending the church service where we prayed for you in 2006. The problem is would Goodluck appoint a credible man?
Nnamdi Njoku, London,UK
Dis is de long time we are wait see, iwu is de worst rigger in de history of nig.
Yaks, Kd ng
The epitomy of electoral disaster is gone, maybe electoral reform is beginning to take place. Good bye disaster Iwu.
Azes Giwa, London
The issue is not Iwu is the system that has the problem. so if the system is not changed, the problem will still exist
Mr Iwu may have been sacked, but what of the 37 other State Electoral Commissioners (including the Federal Capital Territory)? Nothing would have been achieved by this exercise if they still remain in place. Mr Iwu outlines the general direction but they are the ones that actually run the elections.
Dotun, Ibadan, Nigeria
The Jericho wall in Nigeria politics has fallen and Nigerians can now begin to rejoice because his removal represents the end of old era. My prayer is that is case will never be like that of Lazarus but Pharaoh who refuses the Israelites freedom and perish totally but never come back like the Lazarus.
shola adeyemi, lagos
@ Henry, we have a thousand and one honest and capable men in Nigeria. The question rather is whether we are really ready for change. Sacking Iwu will make no difference unless this fundamental question is addressed.
Gadol Regis, Onitsha, Nigeria
It should have come long before now. What remains to be seen is the reaction of those that would have 'benefited' from Iwu's position as INEC Chairman when they recover from the news of his sack.
Stella, Kaduna, Nigeria
In my opinion, Mr Gudluck has only danced to the international influence exerted on him, especially his recent sojourn to the USA. He came into power while Mr Iwu was INEC boss, if he wasn't comfortable with him, he should have resigned long ago.
Therefore, Nigerians should not begin to celebrate the exit of Mr Iwu until after a new appointment is made and the 2011 elections conducted.
I must strongly add that, this is the 1st time a Nigerian leader is dancing to the tune of international influence as regards the removal of a public officer.
Barrister Zaharadeen Sani, Katsina, Nigeria.
Mr Iwu, was given a lot of opportunity to write his name in the good records of the sands of time but has failed to utilise it. He acts on the accords of some "CABALS" behind him. As a Prof, i expected him to have known that everything in this world was in a constant flux, he failed to use his tongue to count his teeth. Well, he should be grateful for this honour.
Eric Ogbodo, Enugu, Nigeria
While i don't fully accept that mr. Iwu is our nation's election woe his removal to me is solving the problem halfway. The other half is our political mores and morals.
Sunday Moses, Abuja Nigeria
well, though Iwu disappointed during his tenure and as such his removal should be a welcomed development. But the question is, will his sacking make any positive difference in the conduct of polls in Nigeria next year? Personally, I don't think so! Nigeria's election flaws has as its independent variable the elite in the society and not Iwu to be precise.
Anyaegbu, Okada, Nigeria
I am an Igbo- Nigerian living abroad and i am very happy that at last the acting president has done the right thing by removing Prof Iwu. In an interview with Christiane Amanpour of CNN few weeks back, Goodluck Jonathan disappointed Nigerians by artfully dodging questions levelled at him regarding the removal of the former INEC chairman. Today Nigeria has moved an inch forward towards achieving credible elections in 2011. It is a pity that African leaders love to cling to power no matter how unpopular they are with the electorate until the rug is pulled from their feet. Iwu should be ashamed of himself.
Dr Tochukwu Anyansi, Tralee, Co. Kerry, Ireland.
Professor Iwu was a thorn in the flesh of most Nigerians. Thank God that this has come to an end. I hope his successor will organize a successful election such that the will of the people prevails and not one that is stage-managed.
Baba J Dawa, Abuja
The sack of the electoral chief fraud giant Maurice Iwu is a big progress to Nigerian Democracy. He has really been a liability to the country's political development. He has over stayed his welcome, that is if he was ever welcomed. After he was used by the past administration led by Olusegun Obasanjo. He has brought shame to his career which he has laboured for over the years. I wonder what men of his calibre will teach his children. The name Iwu should be in the book of Nigerian history of men that sold their dignity for money. Shame to Maurice and those who used him... It's a great step the acting President took here. God bless NIGERIA and NIGERIANS in diaspora.
Joshua Ogie, Port Harcourt , Nigeria
Iwu's sack is long over due. This just one down many to go, i hope acting president is doing what he is with sincerity, cause nigeria leaders execute policies that suit them alone. I call on the acting president not derail. May God guide your actions.
Hamisu isah, Kaduna, Nigeria
there is no condition that is permanent. if Mr Iwu has been proved incompetent then he must leave. we are tired of officers who are used by the government heads (Presidents) He must go to pave way for others. well done Jonathan
Mbusa Leo, Kasese, Uganda
There can be no better NEWS in Nigeria at this time of political reform. We pray that a better, not a worse person emerges as INEC boss.
Ansbert le Mom, Makurdi, Nigeria.
Iwu's sack signals the beginning of electoral reform in Nigeria. It has removed clouds of doubt from Nigeria's political firmament.
Dr. Angrey, Calabar-Nigeria
Bravo Mr President! More grease to your elbow. Am happy that you have realised that its time to put things right. Our country need a credible personality to organise a peaceful and credible election that will be devoid of irregularities come 2011. Shame on u, Mr Iwu.
Ikenna Ezem, London Uk.
This is long expected. The man promised electronic voting but what we experienced was a fraud evidenced by so many post election petitions. Nigerian elections are hardly free and fair because votes hardly count. It is mainly rigging and thuggery that "wins" elections and not votes cast. We need to depart from such malpractice so we can flush greedy and selfish politicians out and move forward as a country.
Dachung Dalyop Dung, Zaria, Nigeria
We should concentrate on implementing transparent check & balance policies. e.g. polling materials gets to site on time, collate & announce results immediately after poll closure. When the system is adequate the person at the helm is irrelevant. Until the existing system is reformed whoever is at the helm will be corrupt
Kaye Kuye, London
The action he took is a good decision but the question is, 'who can replace him'? do we have an honest man that will deliver the right person. we pray for Gods mercy upon our country.
henry chikwe chidi, river state