The Federal Government has tackled the United States over its call for an independent probe into charges by whistleblowers against the President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina.
Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, made the government’s position known in a letter addressed to the Chairman of the AfDB’s Board of Governors, Kaba Niale, on May 28.
The letter expressed Africa’s most populous country’s support for AfDB’s ethics committee’s findings and rejected the call for an independent probe by the US.
The PUNCH reports that whistleblowers in the AfDB have alleged embezzlement and favouritism under Adesina, who is bidding for a second five-year term at the helm.
After the allegations were made, the AfDB’s ethics committee investigated the claims and found them “baseless”.
The bank’s ethics committee also “totally” exonerated Adesina, saying the whistleblowers’ 15-page complaint “rested on no objective, solid facts”.
But on May 22, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote a letter to the bank’s board faulting the outcome of an internal inquiry clearing Adesina, and demanded the appointment of “an independent outside investigator of high professional standing.”
Reacting, the Nigerian government said the US demand for an independent probe was outside of the laid down rules, procedures, and governing system of the bank.
The letter read in part, “The Nigerian Government has been following very closely the above matter, subsequent to the conclusion and submission of the formal report of the Ethics Committee and the decision of the Chair of the Board of Governors, Kaba Niale of Ivory Coast.about:blank
“The Ethics Committee, following three months of work to examine the whistleblowers’ allegations against the President, dismissed each and every one of the allegations of the whistleblowers against the President as unsubstantiated and baseless.
“The Chair of the Board of Governors followed the laid down rules, procedures, guidelines, and the governing laws of the Bank, and ruled appropriately that she concurred with the report and conclusion of the Ethics Committee that dismissed all allegations against the President.
“The call for an “independent investigation” of the President is outside of the laid down rules, procedures, and governing system of the bank and its articles as it relates to the code of conduct on ethics for the president.
“As the Board of Governors, we must uphold the rule of law and respect the governance systems of the Bank. If there (are) any governance issues that need improvement, these can be considered and amendments proposed for adoption with laid down procedures.
“We commend the action you have taken and urge that the bank’s laid down process be followed to protect and preserve our bank.”
The PUNCH reports that Adesina had on Wednesday hit back at accusations of corruption and vowed to continue working.
In a press statement, Adesina said, “I maintain my innocence with regard to trumped-up allegations that unjustly seek to impugn my honour and integrity, as well as the reputation of the African Development Bank.”
Adesina is the first Nigerian to be in charge of the AfDB, one of the world’s five largest multilateral development banks.
According to AFP, The bank has 80 state shareholders, 54 of which are African. The others are from the Americas, Asia and Europe.
The biggest shareholder is Nigeria, with nine percent.