AFTER a rather long wait by Nigerians, the Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, today ordered the immediate sack of the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Maurice Iwu.
The INEC boss, according to the presidency, is to proceed on pre-disengagement leave without further delay.
Debate over whether or not Iwu should be allowed to stay in office a day longer, has continued to dominate the public discourse among Nigerians in recent times, especially since the Acting President assumed the responsibility of and Acting President.
Maurice Mmaduakolam Iwu was born on 21 April 1950 in Umuezeala, Umukabia, Ehime Mbano in Imo State. He attended St. Pius X College, Bodo-Ogoni for his secondary education. He studied at the University of Bradford, England, receiving a Master of Pharmacy degree in 1976 and a Ph.D in 1978. He was WHO Visiting Scholar to Dyson Perrins Laboratory, University of Oxford (1980), Fulbright Senior Scholar, Ohio State University and won the U.S National Research International Prize for Ethonobiolology in 1999. He was a Professor of Pharmacognosy at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (1984â€“1993).
Entering business, Iwu became Vice-President, Research and Development of Tom’s of Maine, a personal care manufacturing company, and member of the Board of Directors, Axxon Biopharm inc. He served on the Board of InterCEDD, Fund for integrated Rural Development and Traditional Medicine, and Center for Economic and Social Justice. He was the United Nation’s Lead Consultant for the development of Nigeria’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan. Iwu has published more than 100 research articles and is the author of four books.
Professor Iwu was President of the International Society of ethnobiology (1996â€“2002), member and ex-President of the Nigerian Society of Pharmacognosy, Member of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and Member of the International Society for Medicinal Plant Research. He was the Executive Director, Bioresources Development and Conservation Program and a Senior Research Associate at the Division of Experimental Therapeutics of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington D.C.
Iwu was appointed INEC commissioner for Imo State in August 2003 by President Olusegun Obasanjo. In June 2005, he succeeded Abel Guobadia as Chairman of INEC. Soon after being appointed, Iwu announced that foreign monitors would not be allowed during elections, but only foreign election observers. This decision was condemned by politicians and civil society groups who called for his immediate removal from office.
In December 2008 Abubakar Rimi called on Maurice Iwu, to resign from office, citing irregularities in the previous presidential election. Michael Aondoakaa, the Attorney General, opposed sacking Maurice Iwu despite criticism of Iwo’s conduct of the 2007 elections.
In March 2009 the Vice-Chairman of Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Maina Maaji Lawan spoke against a motion that questioned the integrity of INEC Chairman Maurice Iwu.