Ibinabo Fiberesima broke down in tears a the Court of Appeal Lagos Division, Friday dismissed an appeal challenging a Lagos High Court judgement which sentenced her to serve five years in prison for the death of one Dr. Giwa Suraj.
In 2005, the embattled president of the Actors’ Guild of Nigeria (AGN) was sentenced to 5 years in jail or an option of 100,000 �for reckless driving which caused the death of Suraj in an auto accident along the Lekki-Epe Expressway, Lagos.
Ibinabo through her lawyer, urged the court to set aside the sentence and restore the decision of the Magistrate Court which sentenced her to a N100, 000 fine.
But the �court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the High Court’s judgment.
Ibinabo, burst into tears immediately the judgment was delivered.
Her lawyer, Nnaemeka Amaechina, said it would be challenged at the Supreme Court adding that a Notice of Appeal had been filed already.
The court had earlier ordered that she must appear before it when judgement is to be delivered.
Speaking on the judgement, her lawyer, Nnaemeka Amaechina, said that the judgment would be challenged at the Supreme Court adding that a Notice of Appeal had already been filed.
Fiberesima had earlier been awarded a N100, 000 fine by an Igbosere Magistrate’s Court, but the then Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner of justice, Supo Sasore (SAN), felt unsatisfied with the judgement. This prompted the state government to take its case to the Lagos High Court.
At the Lagos High Court, Justice Oluwayemi set aside the option of fine imposed by the Magistrate’s Court and sentenced Fiberesima to five years’ imprisonment for dangerous and reckless driving.
In her judgment, Justice Oluwayemi held that the trial Magistrate exercised judicial recklessness when he gave the convict an option of fine.
The court held that the option of N100, 000 given to the convict did not serve the purpose of justice in the matter and subsequently ordered that the N100, 000 should be returned back to Ibinabo Fiberesima.The court added that Section 28 of the Road Traffic Law clearly provides that where a reckless and dangerous driving has caused the death of a person, the accused person shall be guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment of seven years.
Dissatisfied, Fiberesima in her amended appellant brief filed by her lawyer, Nnaemeka Amaechina before the Court of Appeal urged the court to set aside the five-year sentence and restore the decision of the Magistrate Court.
Amaechina had argued that the Magistrate’s Court exercised its discretion properly and there was no ground to review it by the High Court.
He submitted that by virtue of the Notice of Increase in Jurisdiction of Magistrates, No. 7 of 2006, the trial Magistrate could only impose a maximum of seven years’ imprisonment or N100, 000.00 fine.
He added that N100, 000.00 fine is the maximum limit the trial Magistrate can impose as fine and that was what it imposed on the appellant.
In her response, counsel to Lagos State, Rotimi Odutola (Mrs.) argued that the law creating the offence of dangerous driving causing death has provided for a term of imprisonment as punishment for anyone convicted under section 28 hence the trial Magistrate ought not to exercise such arbitrary discretion to impose N100.000.00 as fine.
Odutola further submitted that the children of the deceased have been permanently deprived of the ‘’measureless contributions’’ of their father to their lives as a result of his death caused by the appellant.
She urged the court to uphold the judgement of the Lagos High Court and dismiss the appeal.
The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command had in 2005 charged the ex-beauty queen [Fiberesima] to the magistrate court on a two-count charge of dangerous and reckless driving along Epe Expressway, Lagos which resulted to the death of Dr. Giwa Suraj.
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