According to SaharaReporters, Femi Gbajabiamila outgoing majority leader of the house of representatives, a lawyer, admitted to withholding $25,000 his client received as damages claims.
He was said to have been prosecuted before the Supreme Court of Georgia in February 2007.
The lawmaker, who is contesting for speaker of the house of representatives, has been recently accused of fraud.
His campaign organisation, however, denied the allegations on Wednesday. Abdulmumin Jibrin, his campaign spokesman, said the lawmaker has never been accused of corruption much less of being convicted anywhere in the world.
The denial was a reaction to a court in the federal capital territory (FCT) which had asked Gbajabiamila to appear before it on Monday, the eve of the speakership contest, over a suit filed by Action Peoples Party (APP).
The party had asked the court to disqualify Gbajabiamila from the race on the grounds that he was convicted in a $25,000 fraud case.
Jibrin described as “outright lies” claims that Gbajabiamila was once convicted in Georgia, US.
According to the lawmaker, the accusations were meant to distract Gbajabiamila from the race to become speaker of the house of representatives.
‘SIXTY MEMBERS OF OPPOSITION SUPPORTING GBAJA’
The lawmaker added that the campaign organisation has so far secured the support of 60 members of lawmakers who are not in the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He said members of other opposition parties, including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have also pledged their support for the APC consensus candidate.
He said: “Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and Hon. Ahmed Wase will be on the floor of the house to be elected speaker and deputy speaker respectively.
“We wish to reiterate that Hon. Femi will run an all inclusive house. So far, we have secured the endorsement of parts of the PDP caucus and other opposition parties consisting of about 60 members.
“Hon. Femi has had a distinguished career both in the parliament and beyond. He is a loyal Nigerian and party man. He is honest, hardworking, team player and humble.
“He has worked tirelessly to support his friends but some of them including me let him down in 2015. I have since repented and I am also calling on all others to repent as well.”
But Sahara Reporters has uploaded a copy of the judgement of the supreme court of Georgia, detailing Gbajabiamila’s case.
The judgement read: “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).”
It stated that this means a “member who has not paid licence fees for a period of no less than one or greater than five consecutive bar years; is not eligible to practice law in Georgia, but eligible for reinstatement by specific steps mandated in bar rules, but will not be required to take bar exam to reinstate.”