By LUKMAN OLABIYI
THE hope of ex-beauty queen and star actress, Ibinabo Fiberesima, was yesterday dashed by the Lagos Division of Court of Appeal, over her attempt to upturn judgment of the state High Court which sentenced her to five years imprisonment for the death of one Dr. Giwa Suraj.
The court yesterday dismissed the appeal filed by Fiberesima challenging the verdict.
The embattled actress was sentenced to five years imprisonment by Justice Deborah Oluwayemi for reckless driving, which caused the death of one Dr. Giwa Suraj in an auto accident on Lekki-Epe expressway, Lagos.
The deceased was a staff of one of Lagos State’s hospitals.
Dissatisfied, Fiberesima in her amended appellant brief filed by her lawyer, Nnaemeka Amaechina urged the court to set aside the five years sentence and restore the decision of the Magistrate Court.
However, the appellate court in its judgment dismissed the appeal and affirmed the decision of the state High Court.
In a unanimous decision delivered by Justice Jamilu Yammama Tukur the court held that the trial Magistrate Court lacked the discretion to grant Ibinabo option of fine having been convicted.
The court further held that the appeal lacks merit and thereby dismissed it accordingly.
Other members of the panel are Justice U.I. Ndukwe-Anyanwu (Mrs.) (presiding) and Justice Tijani Abubakar respectively.
Immediately, the judgment was delivered, Ibinabo who was apprehensive throughout the court proceedings, wept profusely.
The court had earlier ordered that the appellant, Fiberesima, to appear before it when judgement is to be delivered.
Speaking on the judgement, her lawyer, Nnaemeka Amaechina said the judgment will be challenged at the Supreme Court adding that a Notice of Appeal had been filed already.
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 dissatisfied with the judgement. This prompted the state government to take its case to the Lagos High Court, where 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 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.