Film Business, Legal Drama

5 Year Prison Sentence Looms Over Ibinabo Fiberesima, President of the Actors Guild of Nigeria

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Ibinabo Fiberesima is an ex-beauty queen and the current president of The Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN). In 2014, a few members of AGN challenged her role as president during the organization’s election cycle. They claimed that the AGN constitution prohibits an ex-convict from becoming president. Nevertheless, after all the brouhaha, she managed to secure and remain president of the organization.

This January 2016, her prior conviction resurfaces this time on her own initiative.

Here is the procedural history of what happened in the case.

1. In 2005, Fiberesima was convicted of Manslaughter for the “dangerous and reckless” killing of Dr. Giwa Suraj on a highway in Lagos. The criminal court (on the magistrate court level, so Nigeria’s lowest courts akeen to America’s criminal courts) found her guilty and imposed a seven year prison sentence or in the alternative, that she pay 100,000 Naira fine.

2. The state attorney general at the time was unhappy with the verdict. So, he appealed in behalf of the state to the state’s high court.

3. The state’s high court agreed with the prosecutor’s office that the sentence was too light, but imposed a five year imprisonment sentence against Fiberesima.

4.Fiberesima subsequently filed an appeal to the state’s appeals court. That means the court a step above the high court. Her argument in her appeal is that the state’s criminal statute (law) provides for a seven year imprisonment OR a fine of 100,000 Naira. She says she paid the fine and therefore, should not have to do the time. She also says the case should have remained on the magistrate court level and should never have proceeded to the high court because the magistrate court got it right.

5. The state prosecutor on appeal disagrees. The state argues that it is not an “either or” with respect to sentencing. Fiberesima should do her time of five years and that the statute is pretty clear about sentencing.

What’s the latest news on the result of Fiberesima’s appeal? The appeals court has “reserved judgment” i.e. it has not issued its ruling. It says it is reserving judgment  because Fiberesima was not present for the verdict and she needs to be present.

The court moved the hearing for a different date where it will render its decision. Obviously the big question is whether the AGN president will walk scott free with no repercussions for recklessly killing an innocent man or whether she will do some time?

The state argues she shouldn’t remain scott free when a family has been denied their loved one as a result of her reckless actions that permanently deprived them of their loved one. They have a point. Fiberesima gets to be with her family, spend time with her children, be President of AGN and in recent times even remarried. Obviously not so for the victim.The value of a human life when recklessly taken should not, in my opinion, be reduced to just paying a 100,000 Naira fine. That is simply preposterous.

We will see how this case turns out.

ExpressNg.com has the story.

 

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Africa Music Law™

AFRICA MUSIC LAW™ (AML) is a pioneering music business and entertainment law blog and podcast show by Fashion and Entertainment Lawyer Ms. Uduak Oduok empowering the African artist and Africa's rapidly evolving entertainment industry through brilliant music business and entertainment law commentary and analysis, industry news, and exclusive interviews.

Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Ms. Uduak is also a Partner and Co-Founder of Ebitu Law Group, P.C. where she handles her law firm’s intellectual property law, media, business, fashion, and entertainment law practice areas. She has litigated a wide variety of cases in California courts and handled a variety of entertainment deals for clients in the USA, Africa, and Asia.

Her work and contributions to the creative industry have been recognized by numerous organizations including the National Bar Association, The American University School of Law and featured in prestigious legal publications in the USA including ABA Journal and The California Lawyer Magazine. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the prestigious Academy of Arts University in San Francisco.
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