BY EMEKA EJERE
The African Development Bank has finally bowed to pressure, opening an independent inquiry into allegations of embezzlement and preferential treatment against its embattled president Akinwumi Adesina, who is seeking re-election in August.
The board said in a statement, that the investigation which is in response to calls for a probe by Washington, is expected to be concluded within four weeks as the bank prepares to elect a new head.
But Adesina,during a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday declared that his accusers had no shred of evidence against him.
In April, whistleblowers submitted a 15-page report to the bank’s governors detailing alleged embezzlement, preferential treatment for fellow Nigerians in senior appointments, and the promotion of people suspected or convicted of fraud and corruption.
Adesina was recently exonerated by an internal inquiry.
Nigeria, whose stake makes it the bank’s biggest shareholder, has expressed support for Adesina.
President Muhammadu Buhari told Adesina that the country “will stand solidly behind” him in his bid to remain at the helm of the bank.
Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo has also called on African leaders to unite in favour of Adesina.
“Some lies have been concocted against me to render me ineligible for a second term as AfDB president”, Adesina had told Buhari.
“The bank has its rules, regulations, and laws. And part of it is that any allegation must be substantiated with facts, evidence, and documents. This is so that there can be believability, and nobody can act out of malice.”
He added: “In all the 16 allegations against me, there were no facts, no evidence, no document. The Ethics Committee investigated for three months. They asked for evidence. The accusers could not bring any. My defense was in 250 pages. Not a line of it was questioned.
“The laws of the bank say when the Ethics Committee has concluded investigations, the report must be transmitted to the Chairman of the Governors of the bank. It was so done, and I was exonerated of all the allegations. If I’d been found wanting, then another investigation could be launched.
“But since there was no charge, that should be the end of the matter, according to the rules. But the accusers want to bend the rules, asking for re-investigation. They say they don’t trust the rules, regulations, the Governors, and the Board of the bank. Their motive is to soil me and soil the bank.
“They are leaning on other countries that hold shares in the bank to support re-investigation, and that I should step aside for that process. It is against the laws, rules, and regulations.
”I thank God who made me a Nigerian. I thank Him that I was born here, lived here, and want to die as a Nigerian. And on the day of resurrection, I will beg God to let me rise as a Nigerian.”
The AfDB raised $115 billion (105 billion euros) in fresh capital last October 2019,a transaction deemed a personal success for Adesina.
It is the only African institution which has a Triple-A rating by credit rating agencies.