As beauty queen and film-maker, Ibinabo Fiberesima, indicates her intention to contest local government election in Rivers State, some Nigerians have begun to challenge her. They are particularly questioning her role in a 2006 road crash in which a medical doctor, Suraj Giwa, was killed.
The former beauty queen has been in and out of prison following that ugly incident.
The last was in 2016, when the matter returned to court again after she was slammed with a 5-years jail term. However, two years after she regained her freedom, the former president of the Actors Guild of Nigeria,AGN, has taken time out to recount her tales of woes.
In an interview she granted to seasoned journalist, Azuka Jebose, which he posted on his Facebook page, Ibinabo apologized to Nigerians for whatever wrong she has done.
She also pleaded with the Suraji family to forgive her for causing them unforgettable pain. She said
I need to tell my story. I stayed silent for so long and watched as my life, character and person were being ruined in published reports, including social media. This is my story, told for the first time on social media platform.
My heart has never stopped aching. the life of someone. I am forever in mourning because of this. Two families’ lives have been changed forever with this unfortunate fatal accident.
It was an accident. Dr. Suraj Giwa didn’t have to die. I wished I could bring him back. I am sorry for the pains caused. I have also been maligned and disparaged in the media: I am a monster. I am a killer and a murderer, I am a drunk… No. Azuka. I am none of these. I am just another human being that was in a deadly accident and the accident caused the death of Dr. Suraj Giwa. It’s been 12 years of heartache, pain and depression for me. My eyes are rivers of tears. Some days I feel like killing myself.
Life has no meaning to me. I think about Dr. Giwa every day. I pray for his soul and I pray and seek forgiveness from his family for the pain and agony. I am very sorry.
It didn’t have to happen. I wished I knew it would happen that unfortunate day, I would not have travelled that road. I was not drunk that day.
Azuka, 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 travelling 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.
At my court appearance for hearing, the judge noticed how sick, weak, incoherent an disoriented I was: he also saw my injuries. He ordered that I should be sent back to the hospital for further treatment until I was well enough to stand trial. I could not walk then.
Later at the hospital, I woke up from coma and to reality. I was afraid and shocked. I could not believe I was involved in an accident that had taken a life. I was like: Wow!..Someone died in that accident. Oh my God!. I didn’t know the family. While I was in the hospital my family contacted the family of Late dr. Giwa who died in the accident. My family was there for the funeral and did everything during the mourning season. I was afraid.
But I met them in court and tried to approach them. I understood the anger and pain I had caused them, so I accepted their anger toward me….his sister was really angry at me… I wanted to talk to her… it was hard for me to get close to her… I understood all these: the pain and distress they felt as a result of the accident. I felt their pain. I wanted to tell them how sorry and remorseful I was… It was an accident. I did not intend to wake up that morning, went out and had a fatal collision.
Weeks later, I was arraigned. I attended all my court appearances. During the process I visited the family and attempted several times to make peace. I never ignored them. I am always sorry. I know the pain is tough, so I understood their anger but I kept begging. I am sorry. I had gone to so many good people and friends to assist me in pleading for forgiveness from the family. One of such friends is late Iyalode of Lagos.
She assisted me in begging the Giwa family: when I became well and able to walk, she took me to The former Imam of Lagos and the incumbent Oba of Lagos: these traditional and religious leaders begged on my behalf, pleading with the family for forgiveness and showed how sorry and remorseful I was that the accident happened. I never ran away from the scene of the accident. I was unconscious. How could an unconscious accident victim remove plate license and registration papers from the vehicle as reported in the media? Why would I do a thing like that? How could I have done a thing like that?
These were all lies manufactured and circulated in the media to tarnish me. Days after the wreck, I woke up in a hospital. I was never drunk as being speculated and alleged. I was never charged for drunk driving. I was charged for reckless and dangerous driving.
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.
Life has never been the same for both families. I am sorry. Losing Dr Giwa altered our lives and I regret that. It’s devastating.
As the case was progressing, I began to read so many false stories about me being arrogant, being an alcoholic and drove under the influence on that day; that I refused to ask the family to forgive me…
Wow…I was stunned. How are all these possible?. So I approached Giwa’s family to find out the source of all these stories that do not make sense. The family said my Nollywood colleagues told them all kinds of things and lies about me. The lies included: that I owned a night club and so I must have been returning from my night club, drunk. I owned a night club years before the accident. They said someone that sells alcohol is an alcoholic. I am being punished with false statements saturating the media. I am broken…
Soon, I was stopped from going to visit Giwa’s Mother…. The only person that always met with me was Barrister Giwa , he is the eldest in the family…who would tell me “Ibinabo you were at the wrong place at the wrong time… things happen…” What do I do?…
Meantime, I became pregnant and my due date was approaching. At that point, I was sentenced to fine because the judge said I had shown remorse. I didn’t even have any money in court that day. A woman I didn’t know paid for me. So I left for UK to go and have my baby.
After the birth of my child, I returned to continue seeking peace and forgiveness with the family. My lawyer informed me of another court appearance. I came back to start all over again….
I didn’t know what was happening. I couldn’t look at myself anymore…why would this case reopen?. What have I done?.. In the middle of this craziness, false statements began to spread and track, again: that I was throwing parties and celebrating… How could I be doing that?. I wasn’t even in Nigeria…I just returned then from child birthing.
How could I have been throwing parties when I was pregnant?. Parties for what celebration?.. I couldn’t do all these things…… somebody lost his life, why should I party? But I kept quiet, secretly begging the family, seeking forgiveness. I kept begging… I feel their pain. I was involved in an accident: a wonderful son, father and husband lost his Life: I kept begging.. I dint know what else to do….
Giwa’s family said that somebody told them I was drunk at my club and must have been coming from there, that day. Are you serious?. My club was closed eight years before the accident happened…
There was no alcohol involved. I wasn’t drunk on the day of the accident.
These silly rumors manifested in the mainstream and social media: the rumors continue to spread that I was drunk when the accident happened… The accident had nothing to do with alcohol. Nothing!. My charge was reckless driving that caused someone’s death. It wasn’t driving while impaired. It wasn’t alcohol that caused the death of Dr. Suraj. It wasn’t… it wasn’t…there was nothing that concerned alcohol with the unintentional accident.
They keep breaking me with these false accusations in public. The public bought into them and perhaps, accepted I was drunk on that day. I keep praying to God to release me from this miserable bondage…I am broken! My life is uncomfortable.. I do not go out. I hardly socialize. I am afraid.
*To be continued.