Former Nigerian House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila has been terminated as a licensed lawyer of the State Bar of Georgia in the United States after his corruption and ethical lapses outstripped acceptable thresholds for members.
According Peoples Gazette report, Gbajabiamila, who currently serves as the chief of staff to President Bola Tinubu, himself a man of uncountable scandals, was ostracised from the prestigious body effective July 1, 2020. He was found to have stolen money from a client and also failed to pay his membership fees.
Gbajabiamila’s disgrace in the U.S. underscores yet again the gulf between civilisations that exert fair and available instruments to foster accountability versus Nigeria, where transparently fraudulent,odious figures are in charge of the most consequential positions of authority.
For several weeks, PG reports, Gbajabiamila dodged requests for comments about his corruption and punishment in the U.S. A spokesman for the State House also failed to send in comments that were promised after several weeks.
Georgia Bar officials told the publication that Gbajabiamila’s latest ordeal began when a client filed a grievance against him for theft. Gbajabiamila subsequently ignored the bar and stopped paying his fees and other membership obligations. Attempts were made to reach him through his Peachtree Road address in Atlanta, but he frustrated it all.
On July 2, 2015, Gbajabiamila was suspended for five years, the publication was told. The suspension was finally approved as a permanent termination of his membership on July 1, 2020. Gbajabiamila, who was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia on June 29, 2001, was the Speaker of the House of Representatives at the time of his infractions in the U.S.
“He can no longer practice law in the state of Georgia,” an official told the publication “He’s done.”
In a unanimous decision on February 26, 2007, the Supreme Court of Georgia approved the suspension of Gbajabiamila for 36 months, after he admitted stealing $25,000 from a client. He was reinstated after serving out his suspension, only for him to commit another infraction that led to his final dismissal.
Mr Gbajabiamila, “who has only been a member of the bar since 2001, admits that he accepted payment of $25,000 as settlement of a client’s personal injury claims, deposited those funds in his attorney trust account in January 2003, failed to promptly disburse those funds to his client, withdrew those funds for his own use, closed his practice and moved out of the country,” the court said at the time.
Mr Gbajabiamila, who had already been a federal lawmaker for nearly four years before the verdict, paid the money back in 2006, a year before the judgement, in order to get lighter punishment, including being disbarred.