From Uche Usim, Abuja (with agency report)
The coast is getting clearer for embattled African Development Bank (AfDB) President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina to get a second term as an independent panel of experts, headed by former Irish president, Mary Robinson, has cleared him of corruption, according to a report obtained by AFP.
Adesina, who has had a brilliant public service was jolted in April by a 15-page report from a whistle-blower who alleged that he had veered off course in running the bank. The report alleged that Adesina had dipped his hands in fraudulent activities resulting in poor governance, impunity, personal enrichment and clannishness.
However, the Board of Governors of the Bank instituted an internal probe in line with its disciplinary blueprint, but Adesina came out unscathed. Thereafter, 15 African Heads of State and African Union threw their weight behind his second term project.
However, the United States, one of the major shareholders of the bank, insisted on an independent probe.
The independent panel of three experts, led by Robinson alongside Gambia’s Chief Justice Hassan Jallow and the World Bank’s integrity Vice President Leonard McCarthy commenced their assignment early July.
The panel has now cleared Adesina of all charges alleged by the whistleblowers.
“The Panel concurs with the Committee in its findings in respect of all the allegations against the President and finds that they were properly considered and dismissed by the Committee,” Monday’s report concluded
Adesina emerged the sole candidate seeking to head the regional bank earlier this year, but his he-election project has been hit by ferocious headwinds, which many thought may crash it.
Experts say it is most likely Adesina will be re-elected in August as the US initiated probe was perceived as the last battle, which he has now won.
The independent panel headed, Robinson, who led Ireland from 1990 to 1997 before serving as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights until 2002 — dismissed the 16 whistleblower allegations against Adesina.
The former Nigerian Agriculture Minister had always stated he was totally innocent of the charges, saying they were trumped up.
He said: “the 16 allegations raised against him were trumped up, “and without facts, evidence, and documents, as required by the rules and regulations of the bank.”
He added that the Ethics Committee of the bank cleared him of all the allegations, and calls for fresh investigation by the United States of America, were against the rules.
“My defense ran into 250 pages, and not a single line was faulted or questioned. The law says that report of the Ethics Committee should be transmitted to the Chairman of Governors of the bank. It was done, and the governors upheld the recommendations. That was the end of the matter, according to the rules. It was only if I was culpable that a fresh investigation could be launched. I was exonerated, and any other investigation would amount to bending the rules of the bank, to arrive at a predetermined conclusion”.
He visited President Muhammadu Buhari on June 2, 2020 where he assured the embattled AfDB boss of his firm support.
Buhari said: “I’ll stand by you”.
The President pledged that Nigeria would work with all other leaders and stakeholders in AfDB to ensure that Dr Adesina was elected for a second term based on his shimmering record of achievements during his first term.