Former Nigerian House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila has had his licensed lawyer status revoked by the State Bar of Georgia in the United States due to his involvement in corruption and ethical breaches that exceed acceptable standards for members, according to recently obtained records by Peoples Gazette.
Gbajabiamila, who currently serves as the chief of staff to President Bola Tinubu, was officially ostracized from the esteemed organization as of July 1, 2020. He was found guilty of embezzling funds from a client and also failed to fulfill his membership dues.
This development highlights the stark contrast between countries that prioritize accountability and those, like Nigeria, where individuals with questionable characters hold positions of power and authority.
Despite repeated requests for his response on the corruption allegations and his subsequent punishment in the U.S., Gbajabiamila evaded The Gazette’s inquiries. Additionally, the State House spokesperson failed to provide the promised comments after several weeks.
Officials from the Georgia Bar informed The Gazette that Gbajabiamila’s predicament began when a client filed a complaint against him for theft. Subsequently, he disregarded the bar’s attempts to address the issue and ceased paying his fees and membership obligations. Despite efforts to contact him at his Peachtree Road address in Atlanta, Gbajabiamila evaded all communication.
On July 2, 2015, Gbajabiamila received a five-year suspension, which was ultimately converted into a permanent termination of his membership on July 1, 2020. At the time of his infractions in the U.S., Gbajabiamila held the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“He can no longer practice law in the state of Georgia,” said an official to The Gazette. “He’s done.”
On February 26, 2007, the Supreme Court of Georgia unanimously approved the suspension of Gbajabiamila’s license for 36 months after he confessed to stealing $25,000 from a client. He was subsequently reinstated after serving his suspension, only to commit another offense that led to his final dismissal.
The court stated, “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.”
Gbajabiamila repaid the money in 2006, a year prior to the judgment, in an attempt to receive a more lenient punishment, including disbarment.
While Gbajabiamila has faced consequences for his transgressions in the U.S., spanning from the early 2000s to 2020, he remains unpunished for his corruption in Nigeria. In 2021, Gbajabiamila was among influential lawmakers and government officials who received substantial bribes from private businessmen to undermine local communities while passing a controversial law governing the Nigerian hydrocarbon industry.
Recently, he has faced allegations within his own party of accepting bribes in exchange for selling government positions. A video produced by the ruling All Progressives Congress’ youth wing accused him of rampant corruption that could significantly undermine President Tinubu’s administration. Although he has yet to refute the allegations, some of his supporters attribute the campaign to saboteurs.
After spending two decades as a federal lawmaker, House Speaker, and now President Tinubu’s chief of staff, Gbajabiamila may no longer require a career as a lawyer, according to political commentator Ken Eluma Asogwa. Asogwa also notes that Gbajabiamila has little cause for shame, given his association with Nyesom Wike, a notoriously violent politician condemned by foreign observers, and Atiku Bagudu, a former Kebbi governor infamous for laundering billions for departed Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha.