From Victor Ugwu
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has beamed its searchlight in the direction of former Managing Director of Unity Bank and current Chairman of Mainstreet Bank, Falalu Bello.
According to sources who would not want to be named, Bello is being investigated over allegations of over invoicing of transactions and money laundering during the administration of former Gombe State governor, Danjuma Goje.
Goje, who is also a serving senator of the Federal republic of Nigeria, is being accused by the EFCC of siphoning the sum of N52 billion while in office. The source stated that a flurry of petitions has flooded the anti-graft agency since Bello’s retirement from Unity Bank. The source continued that Alhaji Bello’s name was mentioned severally in various petitions against the former Gombe State governor, a situation that compelled the agency to beam its searchlight on the retired banker.
The former Gombe State governor, it would be recalled, was one of those vying for the office of the National Chairmanship of the PDP but his campaign has grown cold following the interest of the EFCC in a number of transactions that took place during his tenure. Goje has been invited, questioned and released by the EFCC over sundry allegations of financial impropriety during his eight reign in Gombe State. He has since gone underground.
Sources inside EFCC who would not want to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue said the agency has been examining some bank accounts through which some of the suspicious transactions were allegedly perpetrated.
Malam Falalu Bello retired as Managing Director of Unity Bank Plc on June 30, 2011 and was shortly afterwards, appointed Chairman of Mainstreet Bank, one of the three banks nationalized by the Sanusi Lamido Sanusi-led Central Bank of Nigeria.
Falalu, OFR, is a lawyer whose first job after completing the NYSC was as a magistrate. In 1983, at the youthful age of 29, he was already a commissioner in his native Kaduna State. He joined Habib Bank in 1984 as company secretary and head of the legal unit. Ten years later, he had become the managing director and CEO.
The former Unity Bank managing Director, who is also a well heeled politician, contested for the governorship of Kaduna State under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but lost in the nominations to current Vice President Namadi Sambo.
During the banking consolidation “crisis” of Professor Chukwuma Soludo, Falalu was probably the most critical northern figure. He was not against the consolidation qua consolidation, but only drew attention to the hurtful effect it would have on the 19 states of the north as they would be totally deprived of any bank to drive economic activities. He made that fact known to the then president, Olusegun Obasanjo, who characteristically rebuffed him and Professor Soludo, the CBN governor.