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Again, review panel clears Adesina of ethical charges

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Presidency, party hail verdict, pledge support

After a round of intrigues with the imprimatur of the United States and its allies, an independent review panel, led by former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, yesterday exonerated Dr. Akinwumi Adesina of all 16 ethical charges levelled against him in January this year by a group of unidentified whistleblowers in his capacity as president of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The faceless accusers had claimed the Nigerian was awarding contracts to associates and appointing relations to strategic positions at the financial institution.

The ethics committee of the multilateral lender, which swiftly investigated the allegations in March, cleared the erstwhile Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of any wrongdoings, labelling them “frivolous and without merit.”

The adoption of the report by the establishment’s apex Bureau of the Board of Governors was contested by the American government, requesting an independent inquiry.

To show its seriousness, the President Donald Trump administration, through the country’s Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, wrote the chairperson of the board, Niale Kaba, to formalise its opposition.

In response to the request, the bank last month announced plans to subject the outcome of its ethics committee to further work.

Prior to the latest assignment, the board had vouched for the integrity of the committee’s findings.

“The independent review shall be conducted by a neutral high calibre individual with unquestionable experience, high international reputation and integrity,” the lender had stated in a statement.

Other members of the review panel are Gambia’s Chief Justice, Hassan Bubacar Jallow, and World Bank’s ex-Vice President, Integrity.

In its submission, the panel stated that it “concurs with the (Ethics) 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.

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

With the latest development, Adesina, who is seeking a fresh five-year term in office, would stand for the election scheduled for August 25 to 27 during the bank’s yearly meeting in Abidjan, Cote d’ Ivoire.

He is running unchallenged, having been overwhelmingly adopted by the African Union (AU) and some non- African shareholders.

Meanwhile, the Presidency and the Action Democratic Party (ADP) have hailed the verdict.

In a statement, President Muhammadu Buhari commended the experts for their professionalism in rejecting support services, and providing a unanimous report.

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

In another statement yesterday, the ADP, through its National Publicity Secretary, Prince Adelaja Adeoye, implored the President and other leaders to back him and Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who is gunning for the director-generalship of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The group said it will continue to support good causes and excelling Nigerians across the globe.


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