The embattled president of African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has survived a second probe into his conduct, boosting his re-election bid next month.
A team of independent auditors, that the US government had called for, said they could not find proof he had engaged in corruption or nepotism as alleged by whistleblowers.
The panel was set up on the insistence of the US to review the report of the Ethics Committee of AfDB, which had earlier cleared Dr Adesina of wrongdoings as alleged.
The unanimous report of the independent panel of three said there had been insufficient evidence to prove the allegations.
According to the report, the members of the panel said they “considered the President’s submissions on their face and finds them consistent with his innocence and to be persuasive.”
The panelists did not pass judgement on the president’s evidence but bore in mind that “the whistleblowers’ complaints were wrongly publicised and that fairness required that the President be heard.”
It is titled: “Report of Panel of High-Level Independent Experts Reviewing Report of Ethics Committee of African Development Bank and Response of President Thereto.”
The panelists said they were 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 organisation, 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. We have not attached any value to the Dissociation Note in our deliberations.
“The President has also as part of his detailed submission enclosed 18 annexes, which he believed might be relevant and necessary to make his case and assert his right to due process.”
The panel in its two-part report said it considered first “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 the second part, “it considered, in the interests of due process, the responses of the President,’’ which it found "consistent with his innocence and to be persuasive.”
Both the Ethics Committee of AFDB and the Bureau of the Board of governors had exonerated Adesina of any wrongdoing but the United States government, one of the shareholders of the bank, insisted on an independent investigation.
Nigeria, the majority shareholder of the bank objected to this demand, with President Mohammadu Buhari, his predecessors Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan supporting Adesina too.
A number of other current and former African presidents and leaders also threw their weight behind Dr Adesina, who is the sole candidate for the re-election as the president of AfDB in August.