Speakership: Gbajabiamila In Hot Soup Over Past Fraudulent Practices In USFeatured, Latest News, News Sunday, June 7th, 2015
*Pleaded Guilty Defrauding Client In Georgia
*Suspended From Law Practice For 36 Months
By Ayo Balogun – The All Progressives Congress (APC) speaker-elect Femi Gbajabiamila has come under heavy criticisms over his past shady and fraudulent law practices in the state of Georgia in United States where he allegedly defrauded clients.
Hearing the news that Mr Gbajabiamila has emerged as APC candidate for the position of speaker, many Nigerians in Diaspora expressed disappointment over the development even as they noted that Gbaja’s candidature is a mockery of anti-corruption and moral discipline that President Buhari epitomizes.
They further argued that Gbajabiamila’s election as House Speaker would also rubbish the exalted office of the Speaker and the image of Nigeria and the new APC government within Nigeria and around the world.
Speaking in the same vein, a group under the auspices of National Coalition for Credible Leadership has called for Gbajabiamila’s withdrawal over the alleged criminal and moral issues standing against him.
A statement by the group’s National Coordinator, Mr. Chudi Okafor also wants the lawmaker to withdraw from the race on the account of his dual citizenship adding that he has a surname of Gbaja on his America passport, a surname different from Gbajabiamila that he is currently using in Nigeria.
The statement reads: “Hon. Gbajabiamila who practiced law in America with bar number 288330 was convicted of defrauding his client when he practiced law in the US State of Georgia”.
“It is worth mentioning here that the punishment for Femi Gbaja`s offense would have been outright debarment, however, he pleaded guilty before a full panel of the Supreme Court of Georgia led by Justice Leah Ward Sears.
‘Before the court rule on the petition from his client, he (Gbaja) filed a petition for voluntarily discipline, filed under bar rule 4-227 (b) in which he fully admitted allegation from his client, while Georgia’s Supreme Court suspended him from practice of law for 36 months.”
“We are also aware that section 66 (1) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states that: “No person shall be qualified for election to the Senate or the House of Representatives if he was convicted of criminal offense within a period of less than 10 years before the date of an election to a Legislative House.
“This singular act of Femi Gbajabiamila contravenes the provision of the constitution which states that “No person shall be qualified for election to the Senate or the House of Representatives if he has been convicted and sentenced for an offense involving dishonesty or he has been found guilty of a contravention of the Code of Conduct.”
“As an American, he swore his allegiance to the United States of America. Not only that, as a requirement he must renounce his allegiance to his country of birth before he can be given American citizenship.
“This supposes that he has pledged his allegiance to the USA which contravenes the provisions of section 66 (1a) of the 1999 Constitution, which states that: “No person shall be qualified for election to the senate or the House of Representatives if… “Considering the provisions of section 28 of the constitution, he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a country other than of Nigeria or except, in such cases as may be prescribed by the National Assembly, has made declaration of allegiance to such a country.
“Needless to say that before you can become American citizen you must swear your allegiance to the United States; more so, that Hon. Gbajabiamila is an American citizen and holds the American passport with the surname Gbaja. How can one person bear two different surnames?”
“In light of the foregoing, we therefore call on Hon. Gbajabiamila to honourably withdraw from the Speakership race and go and clear himself in the courts. Gbajabiamila has a lot of moral and legal questions hanging on his neck, which can bring the exalted seat of the Speaker of the House of Representatives to disrepute,”
To avert crisis within their ranks, the leadership of the All Progressives Congress at a crucial meeting on Sunday voted Femi Gbajabiamila for speaker.
His main rival, Hon. Yakubu Dogara from North East has rejected the primary election saying election of the speaker cannot be held outside the chamber of the House of Representatives.
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