Haunted by the controversial deal linked to him at Unity Bank Plc, which he once presided over as the bank’s chief executive, Falalu Bello, who was later appointed as the Executive Chairman of Mainstreet Bank Limited, resigned his appointment a fortnight ago on the advice of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria in order to ring-fence Mainstreet Bank from the ‘sins’ of its erstwhile chairman, writes Festus Akanbi
Whoever had nursed the feeling that the current interim arrangement in the management of the Central Bank of Nigeria would hinder the bank from its interventionist roles in the banking sector should be having a change of mind now going by the way the apex bank’s management waded into the scandal involving the Executive Chairman of Mainstreet Bank Limited, Mr. Falalu Bello, who is also a former managing director of Unity Bank of Nigeria.
The former bank chief, who is facing a battle of his life for alleged insider abuse related issues with his former bank, Unity Bank of Nigeria, was forced to resign his chairmanship position with Mainstreet Bank in what banking sources described as a bid to insulate Mainstreet Bank from the backlash of the harvest of negative publicity trailing the flawed business transaction between Bello and Unity Bank.
However, spokesperson for Mainstreet Bank, Mr. Nduneche Ezeruke explained that Mainstreet Bank does not have such transaction relating either to any member of its board of directors or executive management.
Although no official of the CBN would stick his neck directly to confirm the role played by the leadership of the institution for obvious reasons, THISDAY checks showed that Bello was prevailed upon to relinquish his position in Mainstreet Bank for two reasons. The first reason was to stem the tide of negative publicity for the bank, especially now that the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria is at the verge of getting new investors for the three bridge banks including Mainstreet Bank. The thinking is that with the wave of media reports which the ongoing debt recovery of the management of Unity Bank is garnering, it may not be difficult for critics to suspect similar insider abuses in Mainstreet Bank, although financial assessors have, on several occasions, certified Mainstreet Bank as being professionally run.
The second reason why Bello was removed from the board of Mainstreet Bank, according to sources, was for him to have all the time to defend himself on the allegation without any encumbrances.
When contacted, the spokesperson for the apex bank, Mr. Isaac Okoroafor, could not confirm if Bello’s resignation was an order from the apex bank, as he claimed he was yet to get any response from the banking supervision department of the CBN on the matter.
Meanwhile, the main shareholder of Mainstreet Bank, AMCON, last week confirmed that the bank’s chairman had resigned his appointment from the bank.
Managing Director of the corporation, Mr. Mustafa Chike-Obi, had directed THISDAY to get AMCON’s position from the company’s image maker Mr. Kayode Lambo.
Lambo, who also spoke through one of his aides, said Falalu Bello has resigned from the board of Mainstreet Bank and that he was not sacked.
“He was not sacked but he resigned. There has been allegations regarding his tenure at Unity Bank and he resigned in order not to drag Mainstreet Bank into any controversy,” AMCON’s spokesperson had told THISDAY.
However, it was gathered that Bello bowed to pressure that emanated from a petition from his former bank, Unity Bank, which had appealed against him to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over allegations bordering on breach of corporate governance when he was the managing director of the bank.
Another source said after the consideration of the petition written by Unity Bank against him, the CBN wrote a response to the bank and copied the management of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), indicting the former managing director of gross breach of corporate governance. This consequently prompted the AMCON management to advise him to resign from his position as the Chairman of Mainstreet Bank on the strength of CBN’s letter,” the source disclosed.