Majority Leader of the House of Representatives and candidate for the position of Speaker, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, is currently fighting the battle of his life just days before the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly.
For years, Gbajabiamila, 56, has been accused of perpetrating fraud in the United States where he obtained a law degree and where he practiced until his return to Nigeria to join partisan politics from the platform of the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD).
According to SaharaReporters, Gbajabiamila was found guilty of fraud by the US Supreme Court of Georgia in February 2007 and was suspended from practicing law in the US for the offence.
Specifically, SaharaReporters states that Gbajabiamila, with bar number 288330, was suspended from practicing law in the US for 36 months on February 26, 2007, by the highest court in the State of Georgia.
According to the story, Gbajabiamila admitted to withholding $25,000 from his client before the court.
The $25,000 sum was received by Gbajabiamila as damages claims for his client. But the client didn’t receive the money at the time, the report states.
The Georgia Supreme Court Ruling
The Supreme Court of Georgia ruled on Gbajabiamila as follows, according to the SaharaReporters story:
“This disciplinary matter is before the Court on the Respondent Femi Gbaja’s Petition for Voluntary Discipline which was filed under Bar Rule 4-227 (b) (2) before a formal complaint was issued. In his petition, Gbaja admits violating Rule 1 .l 5 ( l) of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct set forth in Bar Rule 4-102 (d).
“Although a violation of this rule is punishable by disbarment. Gbaja requests the imposition of a 24-month suspension. He agrees, however, to accepting a suspension of up to 36 months. The State Bar has no objection to the acceptance of Gbaja’s petition so long as the suspension is no less than 36 months in duration.
“Gbaja, 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.
“Although Gbaja ultimately paid the $25,000 to his client in 2006, he admits his conduct violated Rule HS (1) and that as a result, he is subject to disbarment. In mitigation of his actions, Gbaja asserts that he has cooperated fully with disciplinary authorities, repaid his client, and is extremely remorseful for the consequences of his conduct. Under these circumstances, we conclude that a 36-month suspension is an appropriate sanction. Accordingly, Gbaja hereby is suspended for a period of 36 months. He is reminded of his duties under Bar Rule 4-219(c).”