President, African Development Bank AfDB, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated President of the African Development Bank AfDB, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, over his clearance of all allegations against him by a whistle blowing group. The Nigerian leader says his clearance remains a victory for the country.

Recall that the investigative panel setup to review the US led rejection of the ethics committee report had found him not guilty, exonerating him of all charges, in what many described as a major win, not only for Adesina but also for Nigeria.

The panel had considered the Adesina’s submissions on their face value and finds them consistent with his innocence and to be persuasive.

President Buhari also hailed the Board of Directors, the Ethics Committee and members of staff of AfDB for their courage, maturity and patience in following through the process of investigations, and acceptance of Report of Panel of High-Level Independent Experts, which reviewed the Report of Ethics Committee of AfDB, and Adesina’s response and subsequently cleared him of all alleged wrong doings.

In a statement by the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Tuesday said: “The clearance was a further validation of Adesina’s competence and integrity to lead the institution.

The president commended the eminent personalities, consisting of Mary Robinson, Justice Hassan B. Jallow and Leonard F. McCarthy, who handled the review of the report of the Ethics Committee, and their professionalism in rejecting support services, and providing a unanimous report.

Buhari believed that the conclusion of the review should finally draw a curtain on the allegations that created distractions for the entire institution for a period, and serve as impetus for more diligence in handling responsibilities.

He also expressed the hope that the clearance would fuel the zeal to deliver on the promises of a greater Africa.

He therefore urged Adesina to remain steadfast, dedicated and resolute in pursuing his noble goals for the institution, especially with the now expected second term in office. He also assured him of the prayers and support of Nigerians.

According to the concluding remarks in the report, the committee admitted the innocent of Dr. Adesina agreeing with the ethics committee report and clearing him of all charges.

The panel reviewed about 16 allegations in total and dismissed all of them agreeing with the ethics committee findings. The ethics committee findings were not accepted by the United States promoting a setup of this investigative panel with the mandate to review the submissions of the ethics committee of the bank.

Adesina’s travails started following a leadership crisis that rocked the AfDB, as the United States, the second-largest shareholder, had asked for an independent probe of the bank’s President, following series of allegations by a group of whistleblowers.

Adesina was accused of unethical conducts, questionable appointments and contract awards by a group of whistleblowers. However, he was of all charges by the AfDB’s ethics committee. The AFDB said it supported an internal investigation that cleared Adesina.

But the second largest shareholder of the bank, the US rejected the ethics committee report and asked for an independent probe of those allegations.

Subsequently, The Bureau of the Board of Governors of the AfDB, agreed to authorise an independent review of the report of the ethics committee of the bank’s board of directors on the allegations leveled against the President of the bank.

The US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin then praised the African Development Bank’s decision for an independent probe of Akinwunmi Adesina. According to him, “Undertaking an independent review is fully consistent with a presumption of innocence,” Mnuchin said.

Adesina denied all allegations made against him.

The Panel in its final conclusions wrote: “The Panel is mindful of the fact that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”. At the same time, it appears to us to be an undue burden to expect a holder of high office in an international organisation, to prove a negative, in the absence of sufficient grounds. An attorney writing on behalf of the President also argues quite correctly in our view, that a distinction should be drawn between alleged institutional failure at the Bank and the conduct of the president.

“On the accusations it explained why it agreed with the report of the ethics committee explaining that “the complaints provided to the Ethics Committee by the whistle-blowers and found that they had been properly considered and dismissed by the Committee.”

“In an apparent conclusion that the accusations were tantamount to a media trial, the panel faulted the public release of the whistle-blowers complaints citing that it was wrong and unfair.

“It has also borne in mind that the whistle-blowers’ complaints were wrongly publicised and that fairness required that the President be heard. It has considered the President’s submissions on their face and finds them consistent with his innocence and to be persuasive.”