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Ex-beauty queen, Ibinabo, escapes jail as court dimisses application

By Innocent Anaba
LAGOS — Former beauty queen and actress, Ibinabo Fiberesima, narrowly escaped being sent to jail by trial judge in the matter, Justice Deborah Oluwayemi of a Lagos High Court, which yesterday momentarily revoked her (Ibinabo) bail and ordered that she be remanded in Kirikiri Prison, Lagos.

Shocked Ibinabo, dressed in a black skirt suit,  broke down and wept repeatedly, saying ‘sorry ma’. She was joined by her counsel, who pleaded for mercy.

The judge, however, reversed her order following plea by other lawyers present in the court, who urged her to temper justice with mercy.

Most of the lawyers pleaded with the judge, urging her not to send her (Ibinabo) back to prison custody. The court also dismissed Ibinabo’s application, seeking leave of the court to travel abroad to attend the forthcoming Miss Earth 2009 Pageant, describing the application as frivolous, vexatious and abuse of court process.

Ibinabo was sentenced to five years imprisonment for dangerous and reckless driving causing the death of one Dr. Giwa Suraj but sought leave of the court to travel abroad to attend the forthcoming Miss Earth 2009 Pageant, which will be held in Manila, Philippines.

Ruling on the application to travel abroad, Justice Oluwayemi said: “I hereby revoke the bail granted to the applicant and she should be taken to Kirikiri until I am satisfied that the appeal is pursued diligently. I am flabbergasted that this application is brought before me. It is unfortunate that you brought yourself before me without thinking.

“How can I grant leave to a convict to travel? How can a convicted person represent Nigeria in Miss Earth contest? A convict is not an accused person, the discretion of the court cannot be exercised in favour of a convict,” the court held.

Justice Oluwayemi maintained that justice was not only for the applicant but also for the deceased.

“Justice is not only for the applicant, it should be for both parties and for the children of the deceased who are abroad and can no longer pay school fees due to the death of their late father. If I grant the application, she (Ibinabo) may not come back because the family has instituted a N200 million suit against her,” the judge said.

“It will not be in the interest of justice and the society to grant a convict leave to travel out. There was no letter from the Ministry of Internal Affairs for her to represent Nigeria simply because as a convict she cannot represent Nigeria any longer even if she had done that in the past,” the court said.

The court further observed that Ibinabo was not remorseful, adding that during the last two hearings of her application, she rushed out of the court without any regard. “I had thought the applicant will sit down and be sober but from her comportment, she is not sober at all,” the court said.


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