Nigeria's acting President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered the country's election commission chief to step down from his post.
In a statement Wednesday, President Jonathan said Independent National Election Commission Chairman Maurice Iwu has been placed on immediate leave.
Auwalu Hamisu Yadudu, professor of law at Bayero University in the northwestern Nigerian state of Kano, said Iwu’s removal indicates that acting President Jonathan wants to start from a clean slate.
“I think it’s a welcome development in the sense that if you want to conduct an election that is credible, I think doing it under the current leadership of Iwu will send the wrong signal… so it’s a good thing; it sends the signal that they want to start on a clean slate, and that they bring some credible persons to conduct the elections,” he said.
Hundreds of protesters demonstrated outside election headquarters last month to demand Iwu's removal.
The United States has also urged that Iwu, who oversaw the 2007 controversial elections that brought President Umaru Yar'Adua to power, be replaced.
Professor Yadudu said Nigerians as well as the international community would welcome the announcement of Iwu’s removal.
“I think all well-meaning Nigerians and, I think international observers of the process that we went through in 2007 would welcome that development and not just the opposition but including the ruling party which would want have an election that is credible,” he said.
He said while the chairmanship of Iwu has been widely condemned, Nigerians should not lose sight of the fact that one tree does not make a forest because Yadudu said it would not be enough to remove Iwu while replacing him with people who are not credible.
Nigeria is one of about 16 African countries that are scheduled to hold presidential elections in 2011.
Professor Yadudu said it would not be accurate to speculate that other African countries might emulate the example of Iwu's removal.
“Conditions differ from one country to another. In Ghana there is an electoral commission that is being chaired by a person for over 10 years. And we all will claim that he did a good job. So removing him prematurely will not be something that we welcome,” professor Yadudu said.