A Breakdown of AGN President, Ibinabor’s run in with the law

Different stories have emerged on how the accident occurred over the last decade. But one recrudescing fact has been that Ibinabo Fiberesima, President, Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) and an ex-beauty queen, had impetuously been responsible for the death of a Nigerian. The sole account which had been brought to the court that led to the untimely death of  Dr. Giwa is the irrefragable evidence used to sentence the ex-beauty queen.

Late Dr. Giwa was said to be driving along Lekki road while Ibinabo Fiberesima had been on the other side driving as well. Reportedly, her car swerved dangerously off the road, towards Dr. Giwa’s car, unfortunately, hitting it. The aftermath was fatal as Dr. Giwa died on the spot.
The accident was said to have been as a result of reckless driving caused by drinking. According to eye-witness accounts, Ibinabo Fibresima seemed to have been completely intoxicated as she did not realise that an accident had occurred and the extent to which havoc had been wrecked.

Perversion of justice

After the accident, a Lagos magistrate court had sentenced Ibinabo Fiberesima to five years imprisonment with an option fine of  N100000 which she paid immediately. But the prosecution had appealed the case in a High Court which put aside the earlier judgment by the Magistrate Court. Ibinabo’s lawyer took her case to the Appeal Court which made a pronouncement on Friday 11, 2016.

The Appeal Court upheld the judgment of the High Court which had ruled that she should be sent to prison without the option of a fine. Ibinabo Fiberesima has again appealed to the Supreme Court but in the meantime, she will have to contend with the judgment of the Appeal Court. In, delivering her judgment in an appeal by the Lagos State Government, against the verdict of an Igbosere Magistrate’s Court on Friday, Justice Oluwayemi held that the N100000 fine imposed by the lower court on Ibinabo Fiberesima which was an option of fine in a manslaughter case that deserved the maximum sentence was tantamount to judicial recklessness.

According to the judge, it is unimaginable for a magistrate to give an option of N100000 fine to someone who has taken the life of another person through reckless driving.

The judge added that Section 28 of the Road Traffic Law, Cap R10 Laws of Lagos State, and 2003 on which the convict was found guilty, did not give the option of fine.

Justice Oluwayemi was of the opinion that the magistrate misdirected himself and might have been confused by the plea for leniency by the lawyer to the convict that the ex-beauty queen was a working mother.

In sentencing Ibinabo Fiberesima, Justice Oluwayemi had averred: “I hold that the magistrate exercised judicial recklessness in giving her option of fine when such is not contained in the traffic law. Wonder why the magistrate regards N100000 as an option for someone who caused the death of another person by dangerous driving. Discretion should be exercised judicially and not recklessly. The nature of the offence is so grave that I do not know how the magistrate came about with an option of fine. Justice is a three-way affair. N100000 fine is not a reasonable judgment for someone who has taken the life of another person. I hereby set aside the judgment of the magistrate’s court and impose five years imprisonment on the convict. I also order that the N100000 fine paid by the convict should be returned to her.”

Justice served?

After the judgment of the Appeal Court, many Nigerians went online to express their satisfaction with the judgment. They had condemned the judgment of the lower court which they believed was insensitive and callous to the feelings of the Dr Giwa’s family. A poll was run by a popular Lagos based radio presenter, Freeze, on Cool fm, Lagos. asking if Ibinabo, the ex-beauty queen should be jailed and the odds were 6:1 against her.

Ibinabo Fiberesima has, however, asked the Supreme Court to upturn the judgment of the appellate court, stating that the Court of Appeal had given a misjudgment following its declaration of the Lagos High Court’s altercation with its exercise of discretion by the trial Magistrate’s court.

She went on to add that the judgment of the Court of Appeal was preposterous and ludicrous and should not be upturned considering the evidence brought before the court.

Ibinabo Fiberesima denied bail

Embattled ex-beauty queen Ibinabo Fiberesima, who was convicted by the Court of Appeal in Lagos on March 11, yesterday, was unable to get bail from the court due to an incompetent application. The three man-panel, presided over by Justice Ndukwe-Anyanwu, said that the appellant failed to attach copies of the judgment that was delivered by the court which affirmed the five years jail sentence imposed on her. The other Justices on the panel, Justice Samuel Oseji and Justice Tijani Abubakar, unanimously agreed with the decision.

Should the AGN president be pardoned?

Some  argue that she is a career woman, who has a husband and children to take care of, that sending her to jail will likely destabilize her family.

While majority of Nigerians, according to opinion polls, are of the opinion that regardless of whoever she is in the society she should be sent to jail as this will be a deterrent to others, proving that nobody is above the law.

The Ibinabo saga is an unmitigated reminder of the danger of road accidents in Nigeria which is said to be among the worst globally and how that some crème de la crème of the Nigerian society have gone unpunished. This is why the overwhelming opinion among Nigerians was that she deserved a stiffer penalty for taking someone’s life so recklessly.

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