Tinubu’s chief of staff, Gbajabiamila banned from practicing law in US for stealing client’s money
Femi Gbajabiamila, chief of staff to President Bola Tinubu, has been banned as a licensed lawyer of the State Bar of Georgia in the United States following his corruption and ethical lapses.
The former Speaker of the House of the Representatives according to the Peoples Gazette, was booted out of 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.
Georgia Bar officials told The Gazette that Mr Gbajabiamila’s latest ordeal started when a client filed a grievance against him for theft.
Also, Mr Gbajabiamila subsequently ignored the bar and stopped paying his fees and other membership obligations. The Gazette was told that attempts were made to reach Mr Gbajabiamila through his Peachtree Road address in Atlanta, but he frustrated it all.
On July 2, 2015, Mr Gbajabiamila was suspended for five years. The suspension was finally approved as a permanent termination of his membership on July 1, 2020. Mr 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 US.
“He can no longer practice law in the state of Georgia,” an official told The Gazette. “He’s done.”
In a unanimous decision on February 26, 2007, the Supreme Court of Georgia approved the suspension of Mr 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.
Though, the Gazette said that efforts to get Gbajabiamila to speak on the issue was rebuffed.
Recently, he has faced allegations from within his own party that he received bribes to sell key government positions. A video produced by ruling All Progressives Congress’ youth wing accused him of unbriddled corruption that could severely undermine Mr Tinubu’s administration.
He has yet to deny the allegations, but some of his supporters accused those behind the campaign as saboteurs.