Former beauty queen and Nollywood diva, Ibinabo Fiberesima, was yesterday granted bail by the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, pending the determination of her appeal at the Supreme Court over her five-year sentence for manslaughter
Two of the three-man panel of the appellate court, Justice Sidi Bage and Justice Samuel Osuji granted Fiberesima bail in the sum of N2 million with two sureties in like sum, while Justice Y. B. Nimbar dissented.
Justice Deborah Oluwayemi of the Lagos State High Court, Igbosere, had in 2009 convicted Fiberesima of manslaughter, holding that her reckless driving was responsible for an auto crash which claimed the life of one Dr. Giwa Suraj on the Lekki-Epe Expressway.
While sentencing Fiberesima to five years imprisonment, Justice Oluwayemi overruled the decision of an Igbosere Magistrates Court which earlier ordered her to pay N100,000 for the offence.
The five-year jail term was affirmed at the Court of Appeal and the embattled Nollywood actress approached the Supreme Court to nullify the appellate court’s decision.
Besides, Fiberesima filed an application before the Court of Appeal, praying it to release her on bail pending when the Supreme Court would hear and determine her appeal.
In an affidavit of urgency filed in support of her bail application before the Court of Appeal by one Victor Eden, it was stated that Fiberesima had just undergone surgery for breast cancer and was still under the watch of her doctors.
Eden said Fiberesima’s surgical wounds had yet to properly heal, adding that the actress was afraid that her life might be endangered if kept in prison custody.
He added that it would best serve the interest of justice to release Fiberesima on bail while the Supreme Court’s decision in her case was awaited.
Opposition the application for bail, counsel to Lagos State government, Mrs. Rotimi Odutola raised three issues yesterday.
She argued that although bail was at the court’s discretion, “the presumption of innocence no longer inures in the applicant’s favour.”
Odutola added that the basis of Fiberesima’s appeal to the Supreme Court was not whether she was guilty or not.
“There is no appeal against conviction but against sentence,” she said, adding that despite the applicant’s claim that she had a health challenge, she had been in prison for “weeks now, but there is no evidence that she visited the clinic at any time for treatment.”
However, Odutola conceded that, “If appeal is granted, it should contain conditions that’ll compel the applicant to pursue the appeal.”
In the lead ruling read yesterday by Justice Samuel Osuji, the Appeal Court held that although bail was within the court’s discretion, the application by Fiberesima was for bail after conviction, “so, there is need to show special circumstances for its grant.
“Since the inception of this suit, there is no record that the applicant jumped bail,” Justice Osuji held.
The court reasoned that there was enough evidence before it to show that the convict had a health challenge.
It added that appeals to the Supreme Court could last up to three or four years and it would occasion harm to the applicant if she was left behind bars for this duration.
Thus, “it would not be out of place if she was granted bail.”
Justice Osuji said: “The applicant is hereby granted bail in the sum of N2 million with two sureties in the like sum. The sureties must be resident in Lagos and should swear to an affidavit of means.”
However, in her dissenting ruling, Justice Nimbar held that for a convicted applicant to qualify for bail, special conditions must exist. She stated that although the applicant had proven that she recently underwent breast surgery, “evidence showed that the surgery was uneventful.”
The justice added that there is a clinic at the prison to cater to Fiberesima’s needs and which could refer her to a hospital outside the prison if need be.
“No special circumstances exist. Bail is hereby refused.”

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