A panel of high-level independent experts reviewed the report of the Ethics Committee of the African Development Bank and the Response of President, Akinwumi Adesina. The Independent Review Panel exonerated the President of the African Development Bank in a report. Below are some of the findings of the report:
On non –respect of internal rules and regulations in recruitment
Here, the President was charged with playing an active role in the recruitment of Managerial positions, acting as the de facto HR manager.
The Panel concluded that the allegation was unfounded and should be dismissed because the staff rules bestow authority on the President in respect of all staff, give him the power of appointment and promotion of staff and that all structures of the Bank on appointments and promotions are advisory to the President.
This conclusion was drawn from an opinion of the General Legal Counsel of the Bank which said:
“The President is better placed than any ad hoc interview panel to know which prospective candidate for employment by the Bank would be best suited in assisting him/her in delivering that vision (which he has been elected to deliver) ………. he/she can recruit the person concerned without passing through an interview panel or any other formal process”.
The committee concluded that the allegations were general, they lacked specificity and were not supported by any information or evidence. Hence do not satisfy the threshold of credibility and substantiation required by the Resolution and should be dismissed.
On the appointment of a named staff member
The whistleblowers alleged that a staff member was appointed to the Bank despite having been dismissed from the National Pension Commission of Nigeria following allegations of improper conduct and that the President of the Bank must have been aware of these circumstances.
The Panel said that the complainants declined to provide any evidence to support any of these allegations. They further said that the complainants declined to proffer any evidence of the alleged dismissal of the staff member or the personal involvement of the Bank President in her recruitment as a consultant to the Bank or of any protest or resignation by the head of HR of the Bank. The complaints were unsupported by any evidence thus the Panel found the allegation to be unsubstantiated and dismissed them.
The allegation was unsubstantiated and should be dismissed as it lacked credible evidence and was weakened by the inclusion of hearsay in it
On the appointment and promotion of a named person
The complaint was that the staff member was alleged to be the President’s brother-in-law, that at the President’s request, he was appointed a lead expert to the VP Agriculture and promoted Adviser on both occasions without competition, then to a further senior position, while the incumbent was still in place as a result of which two salaries were being paid for the same position by the Bank in violation of the Bank Recruitment Manual.
The Panel said that the complainants once more declined to provide any evidence in support of any of the allegations. It held that the allegation was uncorroborated and should be dismissed. While it focused on an alleged familial relationship between the staff member and the President of the Bank, the existence of the alleged relationship was not supported by any evidence.
Furthermore, the complainants themselves state that it is not clear if the alleged familial relationship played any part in the staff member’s recruitment and promotion. Far from supporting their allegations with evidence, the complainants seemed to be transmitting rumors/reports in respect of both the alleged familial relationship and the alleged request of the President for the recruitment of the staff member.
On the alleged mismanagement of a named agricultural technology program
Here, the complainants alleged that a grant of $40 million was made by the Bank to a particular named beneficiary “only after the President personally used all of his political weight to defend the transaction and lift”.
The Panel said that the complainants declined to provide any evidence in support of the allegations. The Committee was right in dismissing this complaint as there was no evidence of the personal responsibility of the President in any wrongdoing in this program.
On the appointment and promotion of a named person
The complainants alleged that a named staff member had long-lasting professional ties with the President and worked for him when he was the Minister of Agriculture of Nigeria; that the staff member was appointed Director of Cabinet Office of the President in April 2017 without competition at a salary which was increased in breach of staff rules and that in 2018, despite falling into disgrace, this staff member was appointed by the President as a Director in a senior position to perform a function that does not exist in the current organizational chart; that almost no trace of actual work by her can be found and that according to the complainant’s information the “special duty” she was assigned by the President is to take care of his wife allegedly undergoing treatment in South Africa.
The Panel said that the complainants declined to provide any evidence to support any of these allegations. It decided that the allegation was unsubstantiated and should be dismissed as it lacked credible evidence and was weakened by the inclusion of hearsay in it.
The Panel added that the inclusion in the complaint of a far-fetched and unsupported allegation that the staff member was engaged in, the care of the President’s wife tends to weaken the case and to discredit the process.
On the direct contracting and appointment of a named person
The complainants alleged that the staff member who was allegedly a childhood friend of the President was awarded a consultancy contract in 2017. This contract had been flagged by Internal Audit as being potentially subject to a conflict of interest.
The Panel held that the complainants declined to provide any evidence in support of the allegations other than a photograph of the President in the company of the staff member. The Committee dismissed this allegation as unsubstantiated. They pointed out that there was a failure by the complainants to report appearances of conflict of interest in the appointments of the consultants as required by the provisions of Presidential Directive No. 02/2012. The Panel was satisfied that the decision of the Ethics Committee was correct.
On contracting of a named person
The complaint alleged that a particular individual was appointed as a consultant by the President immediately upon his retirement and was kept in office with an allegedly comfortable monthly fee and that his continued appointment as a consultant is in disregard of the presence of the Deputy Director-General in Pretoria.
The Panel agreed with the Committee in dismissing the allegation because the alleged facts do not disclose any wrongdoing nor are any rules specified by the complainants as having been violated by the President for his role in the award of the contract of consultancy in question.
The Panel was satisfied that the Ethics Committee considered the complaints received by it on 19 January 2020 comprehensively and responsibly and followed correct procedures. It considered them, both as complaints submitted under the Resolution and according to paragraph 4 of the Whistle-blowers Policy. It appropriately took the advice of the General Counsel in identifying its duty. It conducted a preliminary examination of the complaints as it was required. It took proper note of the criteria laid down for evaluating complaints and the sufficiency of supporting evidence. It consulted PIAC and the Auditor General. It engaged in discussion and debate of each complaint and reached a consensus on the outcome. It applied the correct standard and prepared a report for submission to the Chairperson of the Bureau of the Board of Governors.
The Panel agreed with the Committee in its findings in respect of all the allegations against the President and finds that they were properly considered and dismissed by the Committee