Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The burial of late oil magnate and business mogul, Chief Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs may not be in sight yet despite the decision of the Supreme Court of Ghana which ruled that his remains should be released for burial in line with judgment of lower courts.
Addressing a meeting yesterday, son of the deceased, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs accused his father’s widow, Mrs. Sienye Lulu-Briggs of flouting the directives of the supreme court and Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu for the release of the remains of the late philanthropist.
The family alleged that the widow filed a fresh suit at the High Court of Ghana, asking Enterprise Funeral Homes, not to release the remains of the elder statesman to them. Dumo 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 against his sons and myself, the Chief of the house that his 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.
“The condition of the intervention is that all legal hurdles should be withdrawn. That Dumo is the Chief Mourner and Head of the Lulu-Briggs family. That the remains should be released to him by custom so that we can come together to give the late Paramount Head of the Oruwari House a befitting burial.
“He was a great philanthropist. His works are known across the globe. The federal government was very concerned. The Inspector-General 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 the outcome of the inquest is, 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 Dumo.
“When the petition was dismissed by the Supreme Court, we thought that would be final. We thought that everybody would 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 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 nothing 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 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.”
But the widow, Sienye, has reacted saying that Dumo was only deceiving the people by playing up his stance in order to continue the delay in the burying of the late sage.
In a statement issued by her media aide, Oraye St. Franklyn, Sienye stated that the matter at the Ghana Supreme Court was instituted by Dumo and that by dismissing the matter, the court ordered that the body should be released for burial provided that Dumo fulfilled the directive of the lower court on the conditions for release of the body.
He said, “Dumo remains restrained from solely obtaining the body of High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs without any known burial plan or the involvement of his stepmother in the burial of her husband, which itself is a manifest violation of a valid High Court judgment. The heavens will not fall.
“The Rivers State Government has intervened in the matter and solicited the cooperation of the Amanayanabo of Abonnema King Disreal Bobmanuel to work with both parties to ensure the High Chief receives a state burial.
“The Amayanabo as a result set up a committee to ensure the burial holds. Both parties appeared before the committee. Dr. Mrs. Seinye O. B. Lulu-Briggs, widow of the Late High Chief emphasized her readiness to work with the committee to ensure her husband is buried. She said there was no legal impediment to the burial and there still isn’t.
“What Mrs. Lulu-Briggs wants is the burial of her husband and thankfully, the Rivers State Governor has committed to it. But the moves to solely go to obtain the body of the deceased without a burial plan and without complying with the court-imposed preconditions can only be estopped by an injunction especially since he is also personally pursuing an inquest in Ghana.”