Improving the quality of care is essential for achieving reductions in maternal mortality. Audit is one of the methods which can be used to simultaneously assess as well as improve quality. This commentary discusses one type of audit--confidential enquiries into maternal death. We believe that the enthusiasm for establishing a confidential enquiry system in Nigeria is growing. The challenges faced in setting up an audit system are discussed and 6 steps are proposed to locate the conduct of a confidential enquiry as part of a set of activities which will take cognizance of existing know-how, create shared ownership and provide a coherent picture of needs and information gaps in the provision of quality maternity services. Having such a system in place can be a route towards achieving a progressive vision of accountability for the reduction of maternal mortality in Nigeria.