ADDRESS AT A PRESS CONFERENCE BY CHIEFS OF ORUWARI BRIGGS HOUSE HELD IN ABONNEMA ON FRIDAY, JANUARY 1, 2021, ANNOUNCING THE OBSEQUIES OF THEIR DEPARTED PATRIACH, HIGH CHIEF OLU BENSON LULU-BRIGGS OON, DCF, DSSRS, INIIKEIROARI V OF KALABARI KINGDOM; PARAMOUNT HEAD OF ORUWARI HOUSE OF ABONNEMA.
Gentlemen of the Press, on behalf of the Chiefs of Oruwari Briggs House of Abonnema, I welcome you all to this very solemn albeit historic occasion on this first day of the New Year. Let me therefore begin by wishing you all a happy New Year. We thank you for honouring this invitation despite your other official and personal engagements.
1. On December 27, 2018, we received the very sad news of the passing of our Paramount Head, High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs. He was 88 years of age.
2. As Chiefs of Oruwari Briggs House, our immediate line of action was to begin a process, in collaboration with the family, to quickly give our leader the most befitting burial. But this was not to be.
3. We register our deep sadness and regret that more than two years after the death of our leader, he is yet to be buried due largely to family crisis.
4. The major reason we could not plan the burial ceremony was because for more than fifteen months we could not take custody of the mortal remains of High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs because of the series of Court cases that denied the family from taking custody of the body. The controversies that surrounded the demise of our Paramount Head were widely reported in the mass media.
5. Even when on December 23, 2019, a High Court in Ghana ruled that the body be released to the family led by Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, the matter was appealed up to the Supreme Court before the body was finally brought back to Nigeria on March 16, 2020 into the waiting arms of the prevailing Covid-19 restrictions.
6. The overwhelming view was that we needed to wait for the relaxation of the Covid-19 restrictions because High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs was a man of many parts who had positively touched so many lives. He was a Public Servant, a labour leader, a politician, a businessman, a philanthropist par excellence and a very High Chief. It would therefore be a gross disservice to his memory to deny his legion of friends and associates the opportunity to honour him at his funeral. His obsequies should be designed to enable various personalities who interacted with him in his life time to participate actively.
7. In spite of the protracted litigation which held the mortal remains of our Paramount Head hostage in Accra, Ghana and despite the length of time we needed to wait for the easing of the Covid-19 restrictions, it is unquestionable that the determination of the date of burial of our late Paramount Head is the prerogative of the Chiefs of Oruwari Briggs House and the Head of the Lulu-Briggs family.
8. Gentlemen of the Press, it is our pleasure at this point to break the news that the late High Chief Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs, OON, DCF, DSSRS, the Iniikeiroari V of Kalabari Kingdom and Paramount Head of Oruwari Briggs House of Abonnema will be committed to mother Earth on Saturday, March 13, 2021.
9. An evening of Drama and Tributes would hold at the Ebitimi Banigo Auditorium, University of Port Harcourt on Monday March 8, 2021.
10. There would be a Service of Songs and Tributes on Wednesday March 10, 2021.
11. His body will arrive Abonnema in the traditional War Canoe and Boat Regatta on Friday March, 12, 2021, which will be followed by a Christian and Traditional Wake Keep.
12. To this end a broad-based Central Burial Committee has been set up to actualize the mandate of giving our Patriarch the honour that he very well deserves. Apart from family members, the membership of the Central Burial Committee has representatives from all over Rivers State and beyond, a reflection of the many facets of the departed High Chief.
13. We call on all family members to come forward unhindered and play their respective roles as prescribed by Kalabari custom and tradition.
14. Finally and most importantly, we express our most sincere gratitude to the Governor of Rivers State, His Excellency Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, CON, for graciously approving a State Burial for High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs.
15. This is in addition to the Governor’s untiring efforts to broker peace within the Lulu-Briggs family during the past two years, for all of which we are grateful to him.
16. Thank you, God bless you all and may God take us back safely to our destination.
Signed on behalf of the Young Briggs and Oruwari Briggs group of Houses:
High Chief Navy Capt. A.B. Ajumogobia rtd.
Acting Head of Oruwari Briggs House of Abonnema