• News - North Central - FCT
  • Updated: September 18, 2023

Gbajabiamila: US Panel Terminates Former House Speaker's Law Licence Over Corruption Charges

Femi Gbajabiamila, a former house speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives and the current chief of staff to President Bola Tinubu, has lost his right to practise law in the State Bar of Georgia in the United States because of his corruption and ethical transgressions. 

The Nigerian politician, who is currently President Bola Tinubu's chief of staff, was expelled from the esteemed organisation as of July 1, 2020, according to Peoples Gazette. 

The Peoples Gazette affirmed that it recently acquired records that revealed Gbajabiamila had stolen money from a client and failed to pay his membership dues. 

The scandal surrounding Gbajabiamila in the U.S. highlights once more the difference between civilisations that use just and practical tools to promote accountability and Nigeria, where openly dishonest, vile individuals hold the most important positions of authority. 

Gbajabiamila refused to respond to questions from The Gazette for several weeks regarding his corruption and treatment in the United States. After several weeks, a State House spokesman likewise neglected to submit promised comments.

Georgia Bar officials who spoke to The Gazette stated that Gbajabiamila's ordeal started when a client lodged a complaint against him for stealing. 

Following that, Gbajabiamila stopped adhering to his membership requirements, including paying his dues and other costs. 

According to information provided to The Gazette, attempts to contact Gbajabiamila through his Peachtree Road residence in Atlanta were unsuccessful. 

Gbajabiamila was suspended for five years on July 2, 2015, according to The Gazette. On July 1, 2020, the suspension was formally approved as a termination of his membership.

At the time of his transgressions in the United States, Gbajabiamila, who was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia on June 29, 2001, served as Speaker of the House of Representatives. 

“He can no longer practice law in the state of Georgia,” an official told The Gazette. 

On February 26, 2007, the Supreme Court of Georgia unanimously approved Gbajabiamila's suspension for 36 months after he admitted stealing $25,000 from a client. 

He was restored after serving his term, only to commit another infringement, which resulted in his dismissal.

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 use, closed his practice and moved out of the country," the court stated at the time. 

Gbajabiamila, who had been a federal lawmaker for nearly four years before the decision, gave the money back in 2006, a year before the verdict, in exchange for a reduced sentence, including disbarment. 

He has faced the repercussions of his known transgressions in the United States, which spanned from the early 2000s until 2020, while his corruption in Nigeria has gone unpunished. 

Peoples Gazette also affirmed that Gbajabiamila was among prominent lawmakers and government ministers who accepted large bribes from private businessmen in 2021 to undercut local communities in adopting the contentious 2021 law regulating Nigeria's oil industry. 

Recently, he has been accused by members of his party of accepting bribes to sell crucial government jobs. 

A film created by the ruling All Progressives Congress' youth wing accused him of rampant corruption that threatened Tinubu's administration. 

He has yet to respond to the claims, but some of his followers have labelled those behind the effort as saboteurs. 

Gbajabiamila may not need to work as a lawyer again after spending the last 20 years as a federal lawmaker, House Speaker, and now President Tinubu's chief of staff, according to political commentator Ken Eluma Asogwa. 

He also has little to be ashamed of, given he is on Tinubu's team alongside Nyesom Wike, a notoriously aggressive politician who has already been denounced by foreign observers, and Atiku Bagudu, a former Kebbi governor who is renowned for laundering billions for the late Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha, Peoples Gazette acclaimed.  

"Looking at the characters he's serving with, he has many reasons to brush this off," Asogma, an Abuja-based lawyer, said.

"His ignominious days in the United States may be catching up with him, but you can expect him to thrive in Nigeria, where no one in power is punished for willful infractions."

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