In a major win for Nigeria and supporters of the embattled AFDB President, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, the investigative panel setup to review the US led rejection of the ethics committee report have found him non guilty, exonerating him of all charges.
The report was seen by Nairametrics.
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 an 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 bedeviled 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 cecond 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.
Adesina denied all allegations made against him.
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.
Exoneration of Adesina
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-blowers 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 bossom 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.”
Get all the allegations made against Dr. Adesina here.
WTO: Okonjo-Iweala still in contention as 3 candidates depart race for DG
Okonjo-Iweala and the remaining 4 other candidates hope to succeed the current DG, Mr Roberto Azevêdo.
Three candidates running for the post of the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation have fallen out of the race after failing to secure enough votes in the first rounds of voting, leaving only 5 candidates left, including Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
This was disclosed by Bloomberg on Thursday, before the meeting on Friday. The Candidates that are out of the race are Jesus Seade (Mexico), Tudor Ulianovschi (Moldova), and Hamid Mamdouh (Egypt). The candidates were not able to secure the support needed for the first round of 3 rounds of voting.
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweal joins 4 other candidates for the next round of voting. The candidates are; Liam Fox (UK), Amina Chawahir Mohamed Jibril (Kenya), Yoo Myung-hee ( South Korea), and Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri ( Saudi Arabia).
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala disclosed last month some of her plans for the Organization if made President. Nairametrics reported she noted that part of her vision is to build a trade institution where there is greater trust among its members. She also stressed that the WTO, at this critical time, is needed to ensure that trade and global markets remain open.
On healing the rift between the US and China, Okonjo-Iweala admitted that it is going to be challenging and not be easy. She said:
“Well, this is not going to be easy, if it was easy, it could have been done a long time since. So it would be very challenging but it is not an impossible job. It is very clear that both the US and China have been helped and benefitted from the multilateral trading system in the past. Hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty. They have experienced shared prosperity in the economies and their countries.’’
She added she would listen to both countries to find out what really are the issues causing distrust among them. She said that she will not want to be involved in the larger political problems, but will rather separate the trade issues and focus on them and build this trust.
“You need to begin to find areas where there can be confidence-building and trade. Building trust is not talking about it, you have to have areas where both can work together and agree and we have a golden opportunity in the fisheries subsidies negotiations that are going on now because the US is a party to it, China is a party, the EU, all other members,’’ she said.
Okonjo-Iweala and the 4 other candidates will present themselves to the members of the global trade body for the later stages of voting in the hopes of securing the highest number of votes to succeed the current DG, Mr. Roberto Azevêdo.
FG to establish a new anti-corruption agency
Malami disclosed that the new anti-corruption agency would be called Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency.
The Federal Government has approved the establishment of a new anti-corruption agency that will have the responsibility of properly managing and coordinating all assets seized domestically or returned from abroad, following anti-corruption probes.
The disclosure was made by the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, while briefing state house correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday, September 16, 2020.
Malami explained that the recovered assets had been scattered across several agencies and that better coordination would encourage international/overall coordination in recovering more looted assets.
Nigeria has repatriated well over $300 million of looted funds this year alone and seized about $40 million worth of jewellery belonging to the former Minister for Petroleum, Diezani Allison-Madueke. This is in addition to the seized ill-gotten properties and real estate.
The Attorney General said that this new initiative would create a one-stop-shop for managing seized assets in an open and accountable way. He called the plan the next level of transparency and said the agency could also give the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning a budget for recovered assets.
He disclosed that the new anti-corruption agency, which would be called Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency, is to be saddled with the responsibility of managing the assets that constitute the proceeds of crime in the country. He said that the FEC had approved the transmission of a bill, ‘Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency Bill,’ to the National Assembly.
Malami noted that setting up an agency like this had become quite imperative in a bid to consolidate on the gains achieved so far in the government’s war against corruption.
The fight against corruption in the country has not been an easy one, as even a US senator, Chuck Grassley, earlier this year, raised concerns about the return of money due to worries over whether there were proper safeguards to prevent further misappropriation or relooting of those recovered funds.
The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), which currently has the responsibility of managing its recovered or seized assets, has been bedevilled by a lot of controversies recently, following the accusation and subsequent suspension of its Ag. Chairman, Ibrahim Magu.
This follows the Minister of Justice’s accusation of the agency for diversion of funds that had been recovered during corruption investigations.
OECD reduces global economic decline to 4.5% from earlier forecast of 6%
The organisation also forecasts that the global economy will grow by 5% in 2021.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says the global economic outlook for the year is less than earlier feared, as the body reduces the global economic decline for the year at 4.5%, compared to previous estimates of 6%.
This was disclosed in the OECD Interim Economic Outlook published on Wednesday. They also forecast that the global economy will grow by 5% in 2021.
“The Interim Economic Outlook projects global GDP to fall by 4½ per cent this year, before growing by 5% in 2021. The forecasts are less negative than those in OECD’s June Economic Outlook, due primarily to better than expected outcomes for China and the United States in the first half of this year and a response by governments on a massive scale,” the OECD said.
The group says economic output for most of the world by 2021 will still be bellow pre-COVID-19 levels and “well below what was projected prior to the pandemic”.
OECD says economic output recovered fast after the collapse in the first half of the year, due to the easing of containment measures and the initial re-opening of businesses. They warn that the pace of economic recovery is dying out due to second outbreaks of the virus leading to newer lockdown restrictions.
“Uncertainty remains high and the strength of the recovery varies markedly between countries and between business sectors. Prospects for an inclusive, resilient and sustainable economic growth will depend on a range of factors including the likelihood of new outbreaks of the virus, how well individuals observe health measures and restrictions, consumer and business confidence, and the extent to which government support to maintain jobs and help businesses succeeds in boosting demand.”
OECD Chief Economist Laurence Boone said: “The world is facing an acute health crisis and the most dramatic economic slowdown since the Second World War. The end is not yet in sight but there is still much policymakers can do to help build confidence.”
She urged that governments must avoid mistakes like tightening fiscal policy too quickly, citing that without government support, “bankruptcies and unemployment could rise faster than warranted and take a toll on people’s livelihoods for years to come.”
“Policymakers have the opportunity of a lifetime to implement truly sustainable recovery plans that reboot the economy and generate investment in the digital upgrades much needed by small and medium-sized companies, as well as in green infrastructure, transport and housing to build back a better and greener economy,” she added.