Nollywood actress, Ibinabo Fiberisima, has once again opened up on her ‘manslaughter’ case, begging Nigerians and the family of the deceased for forgiveness.
On February 26, 2006, Fiberesima was driving along Lekki-Epe expressway when she lost control of the wheel, swerved into the inbound lane and rammed her car into Suraj Giwa’s car, which resulted in his death.
The deceased was a medical practitioner at the Lagos General Hospital.
Consequently, the actress was arrested and charged to court for manslaughter and reckless driving. She was convicted and sentenced to five years in jail by Justice Deborah Oluwayemi of a Lagos State High court in 2009. She was later granted bail following an appeal filed by her lawyer, Nnaemeka Amaechina.
However, a Lagos High Court, on March 11, 2016, dismissed Fiberesima’s appeal and upheld her five-year jail term.
She described different versions of the story in the media as false and an attempt to assassinate her character, stressing that she was not drunk when the accident occurred as reported.
In multiple Instagram posts, Fiberesima said she did not debunk the media reports before now out of respect for the family of Mr Giwa, because she wanted the family to heal.
The actress also revealed that since 2006 that the accident occurred and amid the prolonged trial and her eventual conviction, she fell into depression and nursed suicidal thoughts; but with the help of therapy, prayers, and support from family and friends, the ex-beauty queen said she is getting better.
In an apology to the family and Nigerians, the 45-year-old actress insisted that she was not drunk on the day of the accident.
Narrating the incident, she recalled, “I was driving along Lekki road, returning home after picking up a friend’s daughter from a church Fellowship. Suddenly, a red car overtook the SUV in front of me. The SUV was traveling slowly, so I shifted to its front, too. The red vehicle was being driven by a young man and had his friends with him…I drove past the red car. I think that might have angered the young chap because he swiftly sped from behind, drove past me and made a sudden stop in my front.
“I tried to avoid hitting those boys in the red car. I swerved and lost control in that moment, the impact dived my vehicle into inbound lane. Dr. Giwa was inbound, thus he drove into my car and both cars collided. I collapsed and passed out. Three days later, I woke up in a hospital bed to learn what had happened. I was weak, sore and in pains. I could not move my legs. I had been sedated for three days. Doctors said they had to sedate me to numb my pain. Meanwhile, the police had been informed that I was in that hospital. The Lagos State Police came to the hospital to take my statement of what happened. After I gave them my statement, I was arrested at the hospital and charged to court.
She also wrote about her efforts to seek the forgiveness of the Giwa family.
Ibinabo’s recent posts stemmed from backlashes she received after she declared intention to contest as a local government chairman in Rivers State.
An entertainment writer, Azuka Jebose, questioned her political ambition in Rivers State, when she had yet to settle the legal problems over the death of late doctor.
Jebose insisted that the actress’s aspiration was questionable. Particularly, he noted, she has allegedly turned down the demand for an apology by the family of the deceased.
He added, “If we allow Ms. Fiberesima to run and win, we have endorsed her way to national political prominence. What would we tell the children of Dr. Giwa? That it’s acceptable for their father to die in a horrible way and the killer becomes a celebrated politician? The High Court found her guilty and sentenced her to five years jail in 2016. An appeal to the Supreme Court does not justify her freedom. She should be in jail while awaiting the Supreme Courts decision, not printing political posters to announce her candidacy, mocking us that she stands for justice, equity and service.”
She was quoted as saying, “Azuka, I am very sorry Dr Suraj Giwa died in that accident. Please, Nigeria, forgive me. I am suffering. I have contemplated suicide several times. Azuka, I am not a killer. The accident was not intentional. I have gone into deep depression and didn’t care about living since it happened. I am not a murderer. And I was not drunk when the unfortunate accident happened.”
She added, “I am forever very sorry this accident happened. I never planned for it. I plead with the family. I reached out to the GO of the church where the late doctor’s wife worships to beg him to join me plead with her. He was on a crusade in Benue and I went and met with him. I am very sorry it happened. I am not arrogant or careless. I have just been wrongly represented and maligned in the media. The story has several versions that make me a heartless beautiful beast and monster. I have not said much because the family is bereaved. It hurts. I need to respect their sorrows and what they are going through: trying to explain myself, I thought, would sound arrogant. So I kept quiet. I have been sorry from the moment I learnt the accident took a dear life.”