JustMusing on the manslaughter case involving Nollywood Actress Ibinabo Fiberesima.
I am both shocked and flabbergasted not just about the case itself that started about 10 years ago, about the highly questionable campaign raised by certain folks from the entertainment industry.
The former beauty queen had been involved in a road traffic accident in Lagos that resulted in the death of Dr Giwa Suraj, a father of three kids and a Staff of Lagos State Hospital.
The actress was prosecuted by the then Lagos State Prosecutor and haven been found guilty, was sentenced to either a year in jail with the option of a N100,000 fine – which she promptly paid since she wasn’t short of the means.
But being unhappy with the judgment, the family of the victim lodged an appeal and the sentence was replaced with a 5 year jail term instead.
The former Nollywood Actors Guild President lost an appeal which she lodged against the new last judgment month . Delivering his judgment the High Court Judge Justice Oluwayemi called the appeal “shallow and lacking merit”. He also described the original option of a fine as ” judicial recklessness” and upheld the sentence of a 5 year jail term.

My beef however is with the ill advised and tasteless campaign raised by friends and supporters of the actress, demanding that she be allowed to walk free and I’m wondering why and for what reasons?

Because she is a celebrity?
Because she had already paid a fine of N100,000?
Because she is a pretty woman and pretty women don’t go to jail?
Because the tariff is too high?
Because the family of the victim are over reacting?
Because she has been unfairly treated and there has been a miscarriage of justice?

There is a myriad of other questions I could think of to justify this absolutely outrageous campaign.


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The real victim – late Dr Giwa Suraj

The supporters of the actress in mounting their campaign have blindly overlooked and forgotten one important aspect of this case – Giwa’s family. While one is not casting stones at Ibinabo as no one is above what is a regrettable mistake, she was however driving recklessly while inebriated with alcohol and it is her actions that resulted 8n the terrible and untimely loss of an inno cent life.
The decent thing for her to do is simply take her punishment with grace and hope for an early release with good behaviour. And maybe if she had kept her head down, maintained a low profile and soberly made restitution to the family over the years rather than fighting them, things might not have gotten this far.
Hollywood is peppered with several big stars who were jailed for various offenses but faced their sentences quietly and came out to rebuild their carreers even bigger than before they went down. Robert Downey Jr, Chris Brown, Mark Walhberg, 50 Cent, Mike Tyson, Don King, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, January Rule and believe it or not, Bill Gates have all been to jail before becoming the big names we know them to be today.  Even our former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the great Nelson Mandela were both jailed for many years before coming out to be elected Presidents.

Anyone in this day and age should know that it is primarily an offence to drink while intoxicated with alcohol or drugs. But anyone who has been drinking should know better than to get behind a steering wheel to drive for any distance. Not only do they risk their own lives, they are also a danger to others.

Ibinabo knows the law and knew the risk but she took it anyway when she took the wheel of her car that fateful evening. She has taken the life of a man with a young wife and young kids and that is the only important issue that Ibinabos friends seem to be giving credence to. Three kids are going to grow up without their dad and possibly some parents have to live the pain of their beloved son being taken from them.
But the Hollywood crowd seem to believe none of these matter. Some have gone on Facebook to say hurtful things like “her going to jail will not bring Giwa back” Such irresponsible utterances and high level of insensitivity coming from these people is unbelievable to say the least. Nollywood must remember that it is the public that makes their careers and showing this level of insensitivity can also turn the public against them.

As far as I know, there has been no public statements of apology, no public statement of regret or expression of sincere remorse coming from the actress or indeed her representatives. But it seems they are relying on her celebrity status to grant her freedom or exclusion from her deserved punishment.
Every sin or offence does deserve to be punished even after remorse and repentance but the victim or those responsible for meting out justice can apply mercy and leniency.
But when the sinner or offender shows nothing but arrogant insensitivity to the plight of those affected by their actions and blatant lack of willingness to accept their deserved punishment and pay the price for the terrible deed they  have done – or at least humbly ask for leniency, then there should be no mercy.
After all,  Ibinabo is still alive.

Giwa Suraj is not.



Jummy Ariyo

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