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Independent panel absolves AfDB President, Adesina of whistleblower’s allegations

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FINDINGS of an independent panel of experts, led by Mary Robinson, former Irish President have absolved Akinwumi Adesina,the embattled President of African Bank of Development Bank, (AfDB) of corruption allegations.

The independent review panel was set up by the Bureau of Governors of the bank, after a complaint by the United States against Adesina despite having been previously exonerated by the bank’s Ethics Committee and the Bureau of the Board of Governors of the bank.

The three-member panel which has Hassan Jallow, Gambia’s Chief Justice and  Hassan Jallow, the World Bank’s Integrity Vice President in its report gave the bank a “bill of health” under his watch.

After reviewing the report of the Ethics Committee, the independent panel also examined each of the 16 allegations by the whistleblowers and Adesina’s responses to them.

“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,” a section of the report stated.

Adesina had been accused by unnamed whistleblowers of using the bank’s resources for self-promotion and personal gain while also paying out huge undeserved severance packages to staff who resigned in unusual circumstances and favouring Nigerians.

The former Nigerian Minister for Agriculture 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”.

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“My defence 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,” Adesina had said.

“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.”

Under Adesina’s leadership, the AfDB launched a $10 billion crisis response facility to boost African nations’ ability to tackle the health and economic effects of COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision of the panel gives him leeway as he seeks re-election in a bid to serve a second five-year term as president during its annual meetings of the bank scheduled for August 25-27.

The highly decorated technocrat was awarded the prestigious World Food Prize in 2017 and the Sunhak Peace Prize in 2019 for global leadership in agriculture and for good governance.

Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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