An independent panel of experts, headed by former Irish President, Mary Robinson, has cleared the beleaguered Nigerian-born leader of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, of corruption, according to a report obtained made available to newsmen, yesterday.
Adesina, 60, a charismatic speaker known for his elegant suits and bow ties, became the first Nigerian to helm the AfDB in 2015 — but a 15-page report earlier this year claimed that under his watch, the bank had been tarred by poor governance, impunity, personal enrichment and favouritism.
The panel of three experts, led by Robinson alongside Gambia’s Chief Justice Hassan Jallow and the World Bank’s integrity Vice President, Leonard McCarthy, cleared Adesina of all charges alleged by whistleblowers.
“The panel concurs 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,” the report submitted on Monday, concluded.
The African banking institution and Adesina — who is the sole candidate for the bank’s August presidential elections — has been battered by the rollercoaster of allegations after the whistleblowers’ complaints were leaked to the media in April.
The former Nigerian finance minister under the President Goodluck Jonathan administration had always stated that he was “innocent” of the charges.
Robinson — who led Ireland from 1990 to 1997 before serving as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights until 2002 — dismissed the 16 whistleblower allegations against Adesina.
The panel did not investigate the charges themselves, as that was not within their mandate.
The AfDB plays an important if largely behind-the-scenes role in African economies, financing projects in agriculture, health, energy, education, transport and other development sectors.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has rejoiced with President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, on the clearing of all allegations against him by an anonymous group, and further validation of his competence and integrity to lead the institution.
The President urged him to remain steadfast, dedicated and resolute in pursuing his noble goals for the institution, especially with the now expected second term in office, assuring him of the prayers and support of Nigerians.
Buhari, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, in Abuja, yesterday, congratulated AfDB Board of Directors, the Ethics Committee and members of staff for their courage, maturity and patience in following through the process of investigations, and acceptance of Report of Panel of High-Level Independent Experts, which reviewed the Report of Ethics Committee of AfDB, and Dr. Adesina’s response.
According to the statement, “The President commends the eminent personalities, consisting of Mary Robinson, Justice Hassan B. Jallow and Leonard F. McCarthy, who handled the review of the report of the Ethics Committee, and their professionalism in rejecting support services, and providing a unanimous report.
“President Buhari believes the conclusion of the review should finally draw a curtain on the allegations that created distractions for the entire institution for a period and serve as the impetus for more diligence in handling responsibilities while fuelling the zeal to deliver on the promises of a greater Africa.
“The President urges Dr. Adesina to remain steadfast, dedicated and resolute in pursuing his noble goals for the institution, especially with the now expected second term in office, assuring him of the prayers and support of Nigerians.”
‘Senate Begins Constitution Review After Sallah’
The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege has said that work on altering the Constitution would commence after the Sallah break.
Omo-Agege, who chairs the Senate Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution, disclosed this when two groups – Women Education Advocacy and Development Initiative (WEADI) and League of Women Voters of Nigeria (NILOWV) – paid him courtesy visits in Abuja.
He stated that rights of women and the girl-child would be protected in the exercise.
He added that his committee would take into account experiences from other African countries.
“Immediately after the Sallah, we are going to hit the ground running with Constitution review exercise. And there are a lot of bills dealing with women rights advancement.
“We will take the Ugandan and Rwandan experiences into account to see how we can meet up with the agitation of our women in the Constitution review exercise,” he stated.
Omo-Agege had said that Sexual Harassment Bill recently passed by the Senate was not targeted at lecturers in higher institutions of learning.
He said the bill was to flush out the few bad eggs tarnishing the image of their colleagues.
The lawmaker regretted that few educators were soiling the image of their colleagues, majority of whom he described as “decent”.
He said: “This bill is not targeted at our lecturers in tertiary institutions. To the extent that it is targeted at anybody, it is targeted at the errant few, the few predators in their midst. And we have them everywhere.
“So, this bill is targeted at the very insignificant few who cause most of these atrocities and we have decided that we should put a stop to it. I am sure that even most of these lecturers know that they are not the target.”
He expressed optimism that given the level of overwhelming support from the Presidency, it would get presidential assent once it receives concurrence from the House of Representatives.
The Bill to Prevent, Prohibit and Redress Sexual Harassment of Students in Tertiary Educational Institutions, 2020, which was passed by the Senate at its sitting on July 7, 2020, prohibits sexual harassment of students in tertiary institutions and prescribes jail term ranging from two to 14 years for various degrees of offences.
Sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate and co-sponsored by 106 lawmakers, the proposed legislation also prescribes N5million fine for offenders.
When signed into law, any educator who whistles or winks at a student or makes sexually-complimentary or uncomplimentary remarks about a student’s physique would be liable to two years imprisonment or a fine of N1million, if found guilty.
Court Bars NDDC From Executing Projects Without RSG Consent
A state High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has ordered the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to always seek the consent of the Rivers State Government before the execution of projects in any part of the state.
This was the judgment of the state High Court presided over by Justice Adolphus Enebeli, last Wednesday, in a suit by the Rivers State Government, Governor Nyesom Wike, and the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Rivers State against the NDDC, and its former Managing Director, Nsima Ekere; former Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Derick Meene; and others instituted in 2017.
Justice Enebeli, in his ruling in the matter, granted a declaration sought by the claimants that under Rivers State Physical Planning Law, Rivers State Land Law, and Rivers State Urban Development Law, the NDDC or its agents have no power to claim any land or execute any project, including street lights, water supply, road, jetty, and other infrastructures in any part of Rivers State without the consent of the government.
The court, however, refused to grant the declaration sought by the claimants to invalidate or void Section 7 and 8 of the NDDC Act, which borders on the developmental roadmap of the nine states of the Niger Delta region without recourse to other Niger Delta states.
Justice Enebeli said the proposed 60 projects for execution across the state by the then NDDC-led management team, which was the subject of the litigation, if allowed, will affect urban development and undermine the Land Use Act as applicable to Rivers State.
He, therefore, ruled that there was need for the commission to seek the consent of the state government for the execution of such projects in the state as development agents.
COVID-19: Group Provides Palliatives To Andoni Vulnerables
Some prominent sons and daughters of Ikuru Town, Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State under the aegis of Illustrious Sons and Daughters of Ikuru Town have donated Palliatives worth millions of naira to indigenes of the community.
The palliatives include thousands of bags of garri, face masks and others.
Some members of the organisation which include, Engr Emiyare Ikuru, chief Ndeng Ofik, Chief William Mike Omani, and Architect Ntimam Finomo told newsmen during the distribution exercise that the gesture was to cushion the effect of hunger in the community as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Engr Ikuru particularly told newsmen that the exercise was the first of a series of programmes outlined for the community by its prominent sons and daughters.
According to him, the second phase of the programme will start within the next few months.
Meanwhile, the Okan-Ama of Ikuru Town, King Aaron Ikuru has charged indigenes of the community to observe all protocols against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The King who spoke to newsmen during the distribution exercise said protocols put in place by government to check the spread of the disease were not meant to punish anyone.
He commended the illustrious sons and daughters of the community for the gesture and urged other illustrious sons and daughters of other communities in Andoni to emulate their counterparts in Ikuru Town by doing the same to their people.
A cross section of beneficiaries made up mostly of women and other vulnerable groups commended the donors for the gesture.