AFDB investigative panel clears Dr Akinwunmi of fraud charges


In a major win for Nigeria and supporters of the embattled African Development Bank (AfDB) President, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, the investigative panel set up to review the US-led rejection of the ethics committee report have found him not guilty, exonerating him of all charges.

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.

It has considered the President’s submissions on their face and finds them consistent with his innocence and to be persuasive.

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.

It can be recalled the AfDB has been bedevilled with a leadership crisis 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 alleged 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 second-largest shareholder of the Bank, the United States, rejected the ethics committee report asked for an independent probe of those allegations.

Subsequently, The Bureau of the Board of Governors of the African Development Bank (AfDB), agreed to authorize an independent review of the report of the ethics committee of the bank’s board of directors on the allegations levied against the President of the Bank, Akinwumi Adesina.

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.

While all these allegations ensured, the banks Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Dr Jennifer Blanke, resigned with effect from July 4, 2020. Jennifer Blanke, who joined the bank in early 2017 and has overseen a number of the bank’s key programmes, pointed out that her decision to leave was purely for family reasons. She intends to rejoin her family in Switzerland after a very fulfilling time at the bank.

The Investigative Panel cleared Adesina of all charges agreeing with the submissions of the ethics committee.  In its final conclusions, the panel 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 organization, 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-blower’s complaints citing that it was wrong and unfair.

“It has also borne in mind that the whistle-blowers’ complaints were wrongly publicized 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.”

In perhaps the most scathing allegation against Dr Adesina, involving his bosom friend Victor Oladokun and Director of Communications at the bank, the report explained as follows;

“The President has denied a familial relationship with one candidate as alleged, denied that one was redeployed to take care of his spouse, falsely alleged to be receiving medical treatment in South Africa, and that responsibilities and decisions were attributed to him, that ignored completely the Bank’s delegation of authority matrix, and or that were just devoid of truth. In the absence of supporting material, these allegations are simply not substantiated.”

On the allegation that a Nigerian, Mr Ezinwa was found guilty of sexually harassing a colleague during his probation period and despite his misconduct, he confirmed his contract the panel supported the report of the ethics committee.

“The allegations made against the named individual in this respect and also the President are totally false and unfounded, and the Committee was right in dismissing them.”


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