Thirteen months after his glorious transition and the unfortunate family crisis that have continued to delay his burial, Late oil magnate and philanthropist, High Chief (Dr) Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs, OON DCF, DSSRS, is crying out that he wishes to be buried.
This heart-cry of the late billionaire High Chief is coming on the heels of the controversies allegedly engineered by one of his older sons, Dumo Lulu-Briggs, who is said to have postponed the burial three times since the High Chief’s death on December 27, 2018.
K-Times gathered that the first date agreed for the burial of the late High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs by his family members, including Dumo, his elder brother Senibo and his younger brother, Sofiri, was January 26, 2019 before Dumo allegedly cancelled it and announced March 30 – April 6, 2019 as the new date for the burial. According to sources, Dumo made this change because of the general elections in which he was a Rivers State gubernatorial candidate.
Not done with his drama, Dumo quickly rushed to the media to announce that the burial of his father had been postponed indefinitely. It was a unilateral decision as usual, K-Times learnt.
Then followed a spate of crises in the O. B. Lulu-Briggs family, characterized by in-fighting, disagreement, controversies, media wars and court cases.
Dumo’s Greed, Murder Accusation Root Causes of Delayed Burial
Sources revealed that Dumo’s insistence on taking over his father’s estate including his oil company, Moni Pulo, Rachael Hotel and O.B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation, before commencing with burial plans, and his false, unfair, ill-motivated accusation of his step mother, Seinye, of killing his father –her husband – are among the factors that gave vent to the crises.
Dumo had, on 10th April, 2019, petitioned his step mother, Dr Mrs Seinye Lulu-Briggs, to the Inspector-General of Police over the circumstances surrounding his father’s death.
Writing through his lawyers, Abu Samson and Co., Attorneys & Solicitors of Law, Dumo, in the petition entitled: A CALL TO INVESTIGATE THE DEATH OF HIGH CHIEF OLU BENSON LULU-BRIGGS, urged the Inspector-General of Police to investigate the issue of his father’s death because he, Dumo, had reason to suspect his stepmother.
The last paragraph of that petition reads: “It is therefore our brief to request that because the entire family has become apprehensive as to know the cause of the death of the esteemed head of the Oruwari War Canoe House of Abonnema, and their beloved father and philanthropist per excellence of Africa, High Chief (Dr) Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs OON, DCF, consequently, that you kindly use your good office to investigate this matter, cause an immediate inquiry to investigate the cause of death of our client’s father as your honourable office is known to always respond quickly in all such manner.”
Dumo, by his petition, deliberately fueled suspicion that High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs’ death was manipulated by his ever loving, ever caring, ever dutiful, ever loyal and ever God-fearing wife.
The Oruwari Chiefs –Dumo’s Blind Guides (or Stooges?) And Their Media Salvos If Dumo’s murder accusation against his stepmother, Mrs Seinye Lulu-Briggs, was vicious, the media attack on her by some double-speaking chiefs of Oruwari Briggs House was, to say the least, wicked, as their statements in the media not only heightened but sought to lend credence to the suspicion fueled by Dumo’s petition that carries no shred of evidence.
Allegedly working in harmony with Dumo, the Oruwari Briggs House chiefs, in their publication on page 39 of ThisDay Newspaper, May 29, 2019, denied knowledge of the whereabouts of High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs, strangely claiming: “We do not know if High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs is dead or alive.” Incidentally, Dumo who is a member of the Oruwari Briggs Council of Chiefs allowed the publication, whereas he saw his father’s body on the 29th of December and several times thereafter.
This denial of the true state of High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs by Chiefs of Oruwari Briggs House contradicted their earlier statement announcing the death of the High Chief and commiserating with his wife and widow, Dr Mrs Seinye O.B. Lulu-Briggs, published in the Punch Newspaper of January 1, 2019.
Overwhelmed by the negative reactions their action elicited, the chiefs of Oruwari Briggs House, apparently ashamed by their hypocrisy, tried to justify their campaign of calumny against Dr Mrs. Seinye O. B. Lulu-Briggs by claiming in another publication in Thisday Newspaper of 13th June, 2019 that their fear over the High Chief’s true state and whereabouts was precipitated by the fact that five months after the announcement of his death, his corpse was yet to be returned home for burial.
In paragraph 10 of the said publication, the Oruwari Briggs House chiefs stated: “Yes, it is true that the Chiefs of Oruwari Briggs House had announced the transition to glory of our High Chief and commiserated with Mrs Seinye O. B. Lulu-Briggs. But these were acts that were predicated on information received from Seinye herself. Our trepidation heightened when more than five months after, the body of our chief has not been brought home for burial.”
Investigations reveal that contrary to their statement it was Dumo who formally notified the Oruwari Briggs Council of Chief in a meeting about his father’s passing upon his return from after visiting the mortuary with all his siblings and stepmother on the 29th of December 2019.
The Autopsy –Yet to Whet Dumo’s Whims
Perhaps the climax of the crisis rocking the O. B. Lulu-Briggs’ family in the aftermath of their patriarch’s demise was the autopsy conducted to ascertain the cause of his death, as part of the investigation demanded by his second older son, Dumo Lulu-Briggs.
K-Times gathered that after the observation of all the normal administrative and legal processes, the autopsy was conducted on Friday, 19th July, 2019, at the 37 Military Hospital, Accra, Ghana. The corpse of the Late High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs, who died at the Kotoka International Airport Clinic, Accra, Ghana on December 27, 2018, had been at the Transition Funeral Home, Accra, Ghana, where it was deposited.
The result of the autopsy showed that the 88-year old billionaire business mogul died of natural causes, thereby exonerating his wife, Seinye – who was allegedly accused by Dumo of killing him – of any culpability in his death.
But rather than accept the autopsy result, sheathe his sword and join hands with his step mother to plan his father’s burial, the 2019 governorship candidate of the Accord Party in Rivers State rejected the result that was yet to be published, and before one could say Jack Robinson, proceeded to demand for another autopsy, insinuating foul play in the first inquest, much to the chagrin of the highly respected professional pathologists from both parties who witnessed the autopsy and also from the Ghanaian military that conducted it in accordance with international best practices and professional medical standards.
The fallout of Dumo’s ill-advised adamant stance on a second autopsy and other shenanigans are more crises, controversies, trading of words, trading of blames, waste of funds and unending delay of the burial of his late father, subsequently denying final rest to the man he’s making the world believe he loves so much.
Dumo Still Not Ready to Bury His Father
News of the intervention of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, in the O. B. Lulu-Briggs family crisis late last year brought some hope to keen watchers that a permanent solution was in the offing, especially with the fixing of January 25, 2020 as the new date for the burial. However, Dumo’s refusal to meet the conditions given by a Ghanaian High Court before the mortuary can release the High Chief’s corpse for burial and his appeal against the release of the autopsy seem to be the newest clogs in the wheel of progress in the quest to bury High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs.
His alleged recent statement that plans for his father’s burial cannot commence without the family having custody of the corpse implies that the January 25, 2020 burial date might not be feasible.
K-Times gathered that Dumo, in reaction to his step mother’s endorsement of the January 25, 2020 proposed burial date for her husband, High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs, stated: “Even though Mrs Seinye Lulu-Briggs published in the media that she supports the January burial date for her husband, it looks like her recent actions have jeopardized the burial arrangements which had been previously announced to hold on the 25th of January, 2020, because the family of the Late High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs cannot plan the burial of their beloved patriarch without having custody of his mortal remains in Nigeria.”
This statement of Dumo has been interpreted by many to mean that he is not yet ready to bury his father. One of our sources, a Kalabari chief, who is not impressed by Dumo’s actions, puts it this way: “Chief Dumo’s comments betray his sincerity in this whole crisis. How can he say they cannot commence burial plans without having the corpse in their custody? Don’t corpses stay in the mortuary until the day they will be buried? Even if they bring High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs’ corpse to Nigeria, is Dumo going to put it in his house? Is it not in the mortuary that he will still deposit it? Sometimes I’m tempted to think that he is not serious about burying his father, going by some of his statements, because Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs’ Heart-Cry
Amidst these hydra-headed, lingering crises, one man who appears to bear the brunt of it all, and whose heart is, no doubt, bleeding with pain, anguish, disappointment and frustration at this moment is no other than the patriarch himself, the High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs, whose voice keeps resonating in the ears of thoughtful, watchful, discerning minds: “I wish to be buried…”
K-Times reviewed and can confirm that the Late High Chief’s number one wish, as he clearly states in his Will and Testament, is to be buried without much hullabaloo.
High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs, in the second paragraph of his Will, which was read to the O.B. Lulu-Briggs family in the office of the Chief Registrar of the Port Harcourt High Court on Friday, 26th July, 2019, states: “First, I wish to be buried and for my wife, Seinye Peterba Lulu-Briggs, if she survives me, to take an active part in my funeral services. I direct that my funeral services be simple and done in the Kalabari tradition as allowed by my Christian beliefs in recognition of the dignity of my position as head, Young Briggs House. I request that there be no mourning or weeping. Any member of my family and a beneficiary under this Will who refuses to participate in my burial shall be completely excluded from the benefit under this Will, as if such person had predeceased me…”
Analysts believe that the placement of his burial as his first wish shows how important and urgent it is to the High Chief and how much he desires to be laid to rest whenever his maker calls him home, as is the case now.
They are also of the opinion that for High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs to emphasize so much on his funeral as his first wish and categorically stating that he wants his wife, Seinye, to play an active role in the funeral means that he may have foreseen his older children fomenting trouble at his death and witch-hunting his wife –their step mother.
Analysts further argued that the High Chief’s wish that his wife, Seinye, should actively participate in his burial shows how highly he valued, trusted and had faith in her above other members of his family.
One analyst rhetorically asked: “Given the way his older children ill-treated him, disrespected him, rebelled against him and even attempted to take over his company and force him out, tagging him senile to justify their greedy, selfish act, why wouldn’t the High Chief place his darling, loving, caring wife above them?”
The analyst, a lawyer by profession who hails from Buguma, added: “Of course once bitten, twice shy. What his older children need to do now to at least make their father happy – having broken his heart severally when he was alive – is to mend their differences with their stepmother and join hands with her to bury their father as quickly as possible in line with his wish. Thank God the man left enough wealth, so the money for his burial won’t be a problem. Indeed, K-Times read in the High Chief’s Will, that he wants his estate to bear the cost of his burial. That means they have no reason not to bury him even if they want to do it in the next 48 hours. Why delaying the burial and denying him of rest against his own wish? Have Dumo and his brothers, Senibo and Sofiri, forgotten that in Africa, last wishes are very sacrosanct and failure to grant them could be suicidal? Why are they finding it difficult to sheathe their swords and bury their father?”
K-Times gathered that this heart-cry for an urgent, simple burial by High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs was re-echoed by the octogenarian billionaire on 26th December, 2018, during his family’s thanksgiving service at Abonnema, when he told his second son, Dumo, to go and tell his wife and Dumo’s stepmother, Seinye, to come and take him home.
Opinions are rife that the call to come and take him home has a metaphoric connotation of final rest in the bosom of the Lord of which burial is a very essential, final, ceremonial aspect, for Africans and for Christians.
Many therefore believe that sending Dumo to deliver such a message to Seinye was very instructive and shows that High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs expects his second son and his siblings to cooperate with his wife –their stepmother – to give him a simple, trouble-free burial, which is also his first wish in his Will.
This school of thought is boosted by the fact that High Chief Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs peacefully died the next day -27th December 2018 – after sending Dumo to deliver that all important message to his stepmother, Seinye –the last assignment his father gave him.
The World is Watching and Waiting
Whether Dumo will respect his father –whom he claims to love – by heeding his instruction and granting his wish to be buried, or whether he will disrespect his father’s wish and continue to deny him of final rest by allowing the crisis to linger, is what the world is anxiously watching and waiting to see.
The onus therefore lies on Chief (Barr) Dumo Lulu-Briggs, the multi-billionaire second son of High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs the 2019 governorship candidate of the Accord Party in Rivers State and currently Chairman of Platform Petroleum, to do the needful.