David Diai

Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs and the Chiefs of Oruwari Briggs family in Abonnema, Akukutoru LGA, Rivers State, have expressed gratitude to the state Governor Nyesom Ezenwon Wike for his personal intervention and efforts towards resolving the family feud that has stalled the burial High Chief O. B Lulu-Briggs almost one year after his demise.

They also pledged full cooperation to ensure that the offer of a befitting state burial proposed by the governor for the late Rivers state oil Mogul and elder statesman, is accomplished successfully.

Meeting with journalists on Thursday, 12th December, 2019, in Port Harcourt, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs and the Chiefs of Oruwari-Briggs war canoe house, equally used the platform of the media briefing, to apologize to Governor Wike for the insults he received from the widow of the late High Chief O.B Lulu-Briggs in the course of his mediation efforts and while disclosing that they were awaiting a December 17, judgment from a Ghanaian court to grant them legal authority to proceed with the burial arrangements, appealed to Mrs Seinye Lulu-Briggs to release the mortal remains of their patriarch unconditionally so they can give him a befitting burial, latest by January 25, 2020.

Addressing newsmen in his incontestable capacity as the biological son of High Chief O.B Lulu-Briggs, as well as his towering stature as the head of the Lulu-Briggs family and Chief mourner for the burial his father, Chief Dumo said : “I express my deepest feelings of appreciation for the unwavering concern shown to my family by the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Chief Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, during this period of my father’s demise and the ensuing crisis which is seemingly intractable and of course, quite unfortunate.

“I have read the press release signed by Simeon Nwakaudu, Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media and the Governor’s offer for a state burial for my father and the call on all Kalabari leaders to join hands and give my father a befitting burial.

“I am persuaded by this extension of goodwill to say a heartfelt thank you to the Governor because such demonstration of respect and honor to our dear father High Chief Dr. O.B. Lulu-Briggs, OON, DCF, DSSRS means a lot to me, the Lulu-Briggs family and the entire Oruwari Briggs House of Abonnema”.

Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs further disclosed that: “By the 27th of December 2019, it would be a year since my father and our Paramount head died and our desire is that the Chiefs of Oruwari House would go to Accra, Ghana and receive the mortal remains of their late Paramount head and bring him to a mortuary in Port Harcourt and plan his funeral. By the grace of God, we would give him a very befitting burial on January, 25th, 2020 after the Christmas festivities.

“This is the position of the chiefs and members of family and we ask all well-meaning persons to prevail on Mrs. O.B. Lulu-Briggs to unconditionally release the mortal remains of our chief, father and husband to the Oruwari Briggs House of Abonnema through the head of the family, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs. When this happens, we shall inform the Rivers State Government, the Amanyanabo of Kalabari and all stakeholders accordingly,” he revealed.

Shedding more light on the circumstances that had led to the delay in laying his father to rest, as well as the arrangements being put in place henceforth to ensure a a befitting burial for the patriarch of Oruwari Briggs house and a man of the phenomenal stature of High Chief O.B Lulu-Briggs, Chief Dumo said: “It is the tradition all over, that the mortal remains of a man goes to the family through the family head which by the special grace of God happens to be my humble self. My father made me Chief in his lifetime; and he knew that at his passing, I will be the head of the house which is not in dispute.

“So far, the problem is the refusal of Dr (Mrs) Seinye Lulu-Briggs to release the mortal remains of her late husband to the Oruwari Briggs War Canoe House through me, Chief Dumo O. B. Lulu-Briggs, the Chief Mourner. Instead, she has instituted court actions in Accra, Ghana that the mortal remains of our father should not be released to anybody except to her.

“How do we plan a funeral when we don’t have custody of the body? So, if by the grace of God the body is released to us unconditionally, we shall go in our numbers and in the dignity that our father deserves and bring him to Port Harcourt for a befitting burial. Seinye as the wife has all the liberty to play her role as prescribed by Kalabari custom and tradition.

“Let me once again thank Governor Nyesom Wike for his intervention, holding three meetings with us, some of which lasted over 8 hours. We also use this opportunity to apologise to the governor on behalf of the Oruwari Briggs House of Abonnema for the insult that he got from the wife of our father during his mediation and thank him immensely for his efforts. We promise to work with the state Government every step of the way to ensure that our father and paramount head is given the honor he deserves. God help us,” Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs concluded.

In his own comments as the Acting Head, Oruwari-Briggs, House, Navy Capt. Abubaye Ajumogobia (rtd), also reiterated that, by Kalabari tradition, Lulu-Briggs corpse should be brought home for burial, stressing that it was a taboo to keep the body of the deceased for so long no matter the reason.

“It is a taboo to unduly preserve the body of such an illustrious son of the Kalabari kingdom for any reason no matter how good without putting to rest first, the body to mother earth,” he said.

He equally appealed that all legal issues in court be withdrawn, adding that the burial had nothing to do with the deceased estate and property.

The media engagement was also attended by several groups from Abonnema, including youths, women and affiliated family delegations, whose leaders and spokespersons echoed the earlier positions of Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs and the Chiefs of Oruwari-Briggs war canoe house and urged Mrs Seinye Lulu-Briggs to release the mortal remains of their late father and paramount leader, High Chief Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs, to the family.

Adokiye Jack, who is a leader in Oruwari-Briggs house succinctly captured the mindset and position of the groups in his comments. He said: “We want Dr. Mrs Seinye to release the body of our High Chief to us. We are appealing also that the mortal remains of the late High Chief, should be released to the Oruwari-Briggs Chiefs and family of which he was the head before his demise, through the Chief Mourner, his son, Dumo Lulu-Briggs, so that we can give him the befitting burial a man of his stature and caliber deserves,” the groups demanded emphatically