David Diai

The family of late Rivers State philanthropist extraordinaire and phenomenal elder statesman, Chief Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs, has accused his widow, Dr. (Mrs.) Sienye Lulu-Briggs, of flouting the directives of the Supreme Court of Ghana and Nigeria’s Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, in the release of the mortal remains of the late philanthropist and the withdrawal of all cases from the Courts.

The family alleged that, contrary to the express directive mutually agreed to by all the parties at a meeting with IGP Mohammed Adamu, to withdraw all pending litigations and refrain from further legal actions on the matter, the widow had filed a fresh suit at the High Court of Ghana, ordering Enterprise Funeral Homes, not to release the mortal remains of the elder statesman to his family, led by Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, who is the Chief mourner and head of the O.B. Lulu-Briggs family, as directed by the Supreme Court of Ghana.

Writing on his dedicated social media handles Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs said: “Yesterday, I had the honor of meeting my people; chiefs and elders of the Oruwari Briggs group of houses. And I briefed the family and the press about the state of things and the nature of the legal bottlenecks that have kept our father and paramount head of the Oruwari Briggs War Canoe Houses, late High Chief O.B Lulu-Briggs unburied.

“We wanted the press to cover the meeting so that it will be known that we have followed the recent directives by the Inspector General of Police. We have taken no action after a discussion we had with the IG but the recent action of our stepmother is a direct contravention of the express instruction of the Inspector General of Police. We therefore intend to make a formal complain to the IG.

“The state of affairs today is that the family still do not have the mortal remains of our dearly beloved father despite the recent intervention by the IG. We cannot bury simply because we do not have the mortal remains, and instead of following through with the instruction to withdraw all legal actions, more are still being filed by our stepmother. I have no action in Ghana on any matter apart from responses to actions instituted by her.

“The entire family is clearly pained by this ugly situation of unnecessary delays. We are however unanimously committed to taking the right steps and making the right decisions until we find closure. I urge everyone; my family members, Kalabari people and all loved ones within and outside Rivers State to remain calm while we continue to follow all lawful lead and hope that it ends in praise.

Addressing the meeting of the Oruwari War Canoe House in Abonnema, headquarters of Akuku-Toru local government area of Rivers State, on Saturday, 15 February, 2020, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs disclosed that, while he and his brothers have complied with all directives and adhered to all the entreaties by well meaning and highly respected individuals and institutions, to stay action on any move that is likely to further delay the burial of their father, the step mother on the other hand, has repeatedly instituted one legal action or the other to frustrate every effort to get the mortal remains of the late partriach, anytime it appears that a resolution has been reached to settle the matter once and for all.

He said “Our father, the late Paramount Ruler of Oruwari War Canoe House died on December 27, 2018. Until this day we have not been able to bury him and the simple season is that we do not have his mortal remains.

“This matter has been subject of several litigations brought by his widow, Mrs. Sienye Lulu-Briggs, against his sons and myself, the Chief of the house that his mortal remains should not be given to us.

“There have been several interventions and the latest intervention we had was the one from no less a person than the Inspector-General of Police. That intervention was on February 4, 2020.

“The condition of the intervention is that all legal hurdles should be withdrawn. That Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs is the Chief Mourner and Head of the Lulu-Briggs house and therefore, the mortal remains should be released to him by custom. So that we can come together to go e the late Paramount Head of the Oruwari House a befitting burial.

“He was a great philanthropist; his works are known across the globe. The Nigerian government was very concerned and the Inspector-General of Police also expressed concerns that he has not been buried till this day. To pave way for this was to withdraw all the cases in Ghana.

“An inquest is ongoing; whatever be the outcome of the inquest, the Nigerian Police will be informed and they will make their opinion on the inquest. However, let the body be released so that he will be given a befitting burial and we all accepted, including Mrs. Sienye Lulu-Briggs, who was also present at the meeting with her legal team.

“No action was taken by her to withdraw any of those suits until February 11 when the Supreme Court of Ghana dismissed her application challenging the judgement of a lower Court that the body of our father be released to the family by custom led by Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs.

“When the petition was dismissed by the Supreme Court, we thought that would be final. We thought that everybody be happy and at least, we can bring the mortal remains of our father and give him a befitting burial. Also, the autopsy report that she wanted to be file in the High Court and we wanted it filed at the Coroner’s Court, the Supreme Court said it should be filed at the High Court.

“The inquest in Ghana would have nothing to do with the burial. Inquests continue long after deceased persons had been buried. So, it would have notji g to do with it. The IGP’s instruction was that we should withdraw all the suits that had been filed at the Courts.

“Curiously as Mrs. Sienye Lulu-Briggs was cerebrating and calling press conferences in Port Harcourt; that she been vindicated and that she will call for a family meeting, she didn’t tell the public that the same day the Supreme Court struck out her case, challenging the decision to release the mortal remains to the family, she filed a fresh case against the express directive of the Inspector-General of Police.

“She went to the High Court in Ghana asking the funeral home not to release to release the body to us. It is obvious that somebody is being economical with the truth.

“Today, we don’t have the mortal remains of our father after the express decision of the Inspector-General of Police and after the express decision of the Supreme Court of Ghana.”

Highpoint of the meeting which was attended by a huge crowd of Abonnema youths, women, elders and indigenes that thronged the large hall in the towns square, was the brief but official ceremony to formally confer and declare Navy Captain (Rtd) Abubaye Bestman Ajumogobia, who subsequently moderated the meeting, as the Acting Head of the Oruwari Briggs War Canoe House, by the Oruwari Briggs Chiefs.

Congratulating the new Acting Head of the Oruwari Briggs War Canoe House of Abonnema, Navy Captain (Rtd) A.B. Ajumogobia on his official recognition, whose public conferment performed by and in the presence of the family chiefs and indigenes of Abonnema kingdom, has finally laid the matter of who the Acting Head of the family is to rest, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs said: “I heartily felicitate with High Chief, Navy Captain (Rtd) A.B. Ajumogobia, who was officially declared as the Acting Head of the Oruwari Briggs House, by the Oruwari Briggs Chiefs. To God be the glory!”