Barring any unusual move by the Supreme Court, Nollywood actress Ibinabo Fiberesima may soon find herself behind bars as the Court of Appeal in Lagos on Friday, March 11 upheld a five-year jail term slammed on her by a Lagos High Court.
The beautiful mother of four and Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) president had been sentenced to five years imprisonment by Justice Deborah Oluwayemi of a Lagos High Court for reckless driving on the Lekki-Epe expressway when she knocked and killed a staff of a Lagos State hospital.
The Appellate Court has now dismissed her application to have the verdict upturned and upheld the five-year jail term.
Counsel to the appellant, Nnaemeka Amaechina, said the judgment would be challenged at the Supreme Court, and that a notice of appeal had already been filed.
Encomium.ng spoke with Gabriel Onojason, a lawyer to explain the most likely outcome of the case at the Supreme Court.
What do you think is the most likely of Ibinabo Fiberesima’s case at Supreme Court, considering the Appeal Court ruling?
There is no hard and fast rule about it. But in most cases when there is a concurrence of judgment by a lower court and Appeal Court, the Supreme Court usually does not alter the decision. Except if, in the course of looking into the matter, the Supreme Court finds that sufficient evaluation by the Appeal Court and lower court were wrong or that there was a denial of the right to fair hearing; other than that, rarely does the Supreme Court temper with the concurrent judgment.
In this particular case, it’s a tough on but it would be difficult for her to get an upturn of the case at the Supreme Court.
What case can she present to the Apex Court to get an upturn?
The crux of argument has been that the magistrate exercised discretion in awarding a fine instead of convicting her. The State has always held that the discretion exercised by the magistrate was wrong because the offence in question is death by manslaughter as a result of reckless driving. So for her to succeed at the Supreme Court, she has to show that the magistrate’s exercise of discretion was right! If she cannot, it would be difficult for her team to make headway at the Supreme Court. The High Court and Appeal Court held that such an offence not ought to be punished by fine.