Nigeria’s Head of AfDB to face fresh probe following US position
Following insistence on fresh probe of corrupt allegations against him, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has said it has commissioned an independent inquiry into allegations of corruption against its head, Akinwumi Adesina.
The former Nigerian agriculture minister is seeking re-election in August.
But the United States has led calls for him to be investigated on suspicion of embezzlement, preferential treatment for fellow Nigerians in senior appointments, and the promotion of people suspected or convicted of fraud and corruption.
Adesina denies any wrongdoing and was initially cleared of the allegations by an internal investigation.
The institution – one of the world’s five major multilateral development banks – is the only African lender afforded the highest credit rating.
A number of African leaders, including Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari have backed the embattled AfDB chief, saying that the rule of engagement of the AFDB should be followed in the case.
Buhari is not convinced that Akinwunmi Adesina is culpable of corruption charges levelled against him by unnamed members of staff of the bank.
During a meeting with Adesina on Tuesday, Buhari said his administration would stand solidly behind Adesina in his bid to get re-elected as AfDB President.
16-point allegations against Adesina bordering on corruption is threatening his re-election for another five-year term in the continental institution. But Adesina who is currently a sole candidate for the election has denied all charges, saying they are trumped-up.
The president spoke at the State House, Abuja, Tuesday, while hosting Mr Adesina.
“In 2015, when you were to be elected for the first term, I wrote to all African leaders, recommending you for the position. I didn’t say because you were a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Minister, and I belonged to the All Progressives Congress (APC), so I would withhold my support. I’ll remain consistent with you, because no one has faulted the step I took on behalf of Nigeria,” said Mr Buhari.
The president pledged that Nigeria would work with all other leaders and stakeholders in AfDB to ensure that Mr Adesina was elected for a second term built on the record of his achievements during his first term.
Mr Adesina is facing allegations of corruption at the bank and is being investigated.
He denies the allegations and had earlier been cleared of the claims raised by a whistleblower group, but the United States, the bank’s second-largest shareholder after Nigeria, has called for an external probe.
The Nigerian government and other African leaders have been rallying support for Mr Adesina who is seeking a second five-year term.
Giving a background to what was happening in the bank, Mr Adesina, a 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.”
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,” Mr Adesina said.
Stressing that the motive was to soil his name, and that of the bank, the AfDB president said he was proud to be Nigerian, and thanked President Buhari for his unflinching support.
“You helped me to get elected in the first place, and you have supported me robustly all along, and the African Union unanimously endorsed my re-election” he declared.
While commiserating with President Buhari on the death of the former Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, Mr Adesina described Professor Ibrahim Gambari, new Chief of Staff as “a man of integrity, and of global standing.”