EXCLUSIVE: Seinye Lulu-Briggs chasing herself by Sotonye Ijuaye Dagogo
The editor of the Rivers Ijaw Voice, Sotonye Ijuye-Dagogo caught up with the ever-busy businessman and politician, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs on January, 2020 and it was a rare opportunity to ask him to throw light on many issues surrounding the ongoing feud in the Lulu-Briggs family.
It was a session of very frank interaction came across as a very worried man. He is worried that his father has stayed too long in the mortuary because his father’s wife has refused to hand over his mortal remains to his family and chiefs.
He spoke on the controversies around his father’s death in Accra, Ghana, the ongoing police investigation, the contentious autopsy and wished that the family came together, settle matters and give their father a befitting burial without any further delay._
Below are excerpts:
Q: Your father died at the ripe old age of 88, so why can’t you let him rest in peace? Why the suspicion against your stepmother, Mrs. Seinye Lulu-Briggs?
DLB: It is everybody’s desire and prayer that my father should rest in peace. My father lived a fulfilled life; he was a very devoted Christian. He was a philanthropist per excellence. He cared for people that he did not know and would never have known. A lot of people he did things for, he didn’t care to know them. He was a strong community person who contributed in all community related activities. He made tremendous sacrifices.
He was a very well-known politician of his time, a successful businessman and a family man, father to all his children and to many more that he did not know and so it is our wish that we are able to come together as a family, his children, wife, everybody and give him a very befitting burial.
But again, as members of the family, we would want to know how exactly our father died, given the circumstances of his death. That our father lived up to 88 years is no reason that we should not be allowed to know how, where and when he died.
If as the Chief of the Lulu-Briggs family and the chief mourner, I was given his medical death certificate or it was even shown to me when I so requested of our stepmother, it would have been a lot easier for me to understand what happened. But when we consider that at his age, ailing and gone through several medical conditions, he was held up inside an aircraft that was aground for more than five hours with doors firmly shut; when we consider that he had done tracheostomy operation with tubes inserted in his throat; when we consider that even in the comfort of his home he needed suction at regular intervals, we wonder why anybody would keep him inside an aircraft on ground at the Port Harcourt International Airport for those number of hours.
If the aircraft, as they claimed, had no landing permit to land in Accra, although we had since discovered that the chartered plane had a landing permit, why did the aircraft proceed to carry passengers all of whom proceeded to board the aircraft without going through immigrations, when it was not a domestic but an international flight, only to stay on ground, with door shut for more than five hours? There was no Doctor in the aircraft only a personal nurse.
Moreover, the older children, including me, did not even know that they were embarking on such a trip, even though we were together the previous day and our father was so weak that he couldn’t stay through an hour thanksgiving function in Abonnema.
I am very concerned as a son that my father who was ailing, whom I saw a day before and who was not looking strong at all, was to be taken early the next day into an aircraft on holidays to Accra. Why would this happen and people are expecting us not to ask questions?
We, the older children of our father asked questions and we didn’t get answers, we were not given the medical death certificate, we asked for the mortuary receipts and were given none. At this point we became agitated and reported the matter to the police.
The information we got was that on arrival in Accra, they discovered that he was completely motionless. This bothered us because we felt that the wife and others in the aircraft, knowing the condition of our father, ought to be observing him on a minute by minute basis and not to discover in Accra that he was motionless.
The matter, by the laws of the Republic of Ghana, qualifies for police investigation and the police have instituted same in Accra. The Police authorities in Ghana needed to know why there was no report of such death to the police, why there was no record with the Airport Authorities and the Ghana Immigration Services.
These are the things that have raised serious suspicions and we are asking for answers and when we can’t get any, we worry. If things happen in manners that raise suspicions, it is only proper that we report the matter to the appropriate authority and that is all that we have done.
Fortunately, where we are now, the police are doing their investigation and there is nothing that says that whilst the investigation continues, we cannot give our father a befitting burial.
But his widow, our stepmother, Mrs. Seinye Lulu-Briggs, has brought two court cases in Ghana that the mortal remains of our father should not be handed over to us, the family, but should be given to her, claiming that she is the next of kin. By Kalabari native laws and custom, the body belongs to the family and the older sons of our father are saying to his widow, can we have his mortal remains so that we can call everybody together and give him a befitting burial? Instead of doing the right thing, she goes to court asking to be given custody of the mortal remains of her husband.
Customarily, the body should be handed over to me as the chief of the immediate family and the chief mourner. It should be noted that am not the oldest son. I have an older brother, who is 14 years older than me, who admits that as the chief, customarily, I am the chief mourner and the chairman of the burial committee.
It is instructive that the natural ruler of Kalabari, the Amayanabo, King T.J.T. Princewill has taken a position to this effect and relayed same in writing to us and to our father’s wife. Our father was a paramount head of the Oruwari Briggs House of Abonnema and therefore native law and custom should be applicable.
So, you wonder why our stepmother, the widow of our father, would take an action in Accra, asking the court not to release the mortal remains to the people who customarily should have the body of the deceased. She is rather asking that the body be released to her as the person who deposited the body at the mortuary in Accra and so has the receipts.
These actions are brought against the older children, who are not only children but sons of our father. My father’s first three children are boys; one is 69 years old, the other 55 years old and the third 48 years old. These are adult men and their stepmother is saying that the body of their father should not be released to them. In essence, she is holding the body of our father hostage and denying us the opportunity of giving him a befitting burial as quickly as we want.
Q: But your stepmom says that you are the one delaying the burial of your father?
DLB: But I didn’t bring an action in Ghana, am not the person who sued. This is a situation where a person tells a tale and believes the tale absolutely, even when he/she know same to be false. What she is saying is completely untrue because she is the person who took an action in court against the release of the body to the family for burial.
I, Dumo Lulu-Briggs didn’t initiate a court suit in Ghana. I am not the one who sued. Rather it is Mrs. Seinye Lulu-Briggs that has refused to release medical death certificate and mortuary receipts to the people that should have them.
Granted that she took my father’s body to the mortuary in Ghana because she claims that he died in Accra and there were no persons around who normally should have taken the body to the mortuary and as the only adult family member present, she took his body to the morgue. Even in that situation, my younger brother, Dateim, 25years, that was in Accra with them, customarily ought to have been the person to take the body to the mortuary.
The proper thing that she is expected to do thereafter, was to hand over the body and the papers to the family as required.
As it stands, the family can’t even convene a meeting to plan my father’s burial when they do not have custody of the body. The last meeting which she was invited to, she declined attendance and her daughter Solate who had earlier confirmed to me in message that she would be present later sent a text saying she would not be coming as she had other engagements which later turned out to be a party being organized by Seinye for her friends.
Q: But Chief Abiola Ogundokun speaking in defense of your stepmother said that the family had twice set dates for burial but you, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs cancelled those dates.
DLB: There was no time the family decided such. She decided on her own to take a date for burial and sent out invitations to everybody and people asked how can she do that as the wife, without reference to us?
The Chiefs of Oruwari Briggs House intervened and told her that she didn’t have the right to do that because there are people in the family who ought to come together in a meeting to decide on the date for burial.
As a matter of fact, by our Kalabari-Ijaw native law and custom, at the passing of her husband, she takes a back seat and allows the family to plan the funeral and I, as the chief mourner, would be informing her and taking her counsel in the arrangements because she is not to be seen in public until the burial day.
But in the case of our stepmother, she has even organized, alone and by herself, a funeral service for our late dad in Accra, done a posthumous birthday for him, she is seen everywhere, even to the extent of going to the mortuary to identify his corpse for autopsy, all of which she ought not to do customarily.
At the time she unilaterally fixed the burial date, we were still asking questions about his cause of death, his medical death certificate and mortuary receipts. Nobody had seen any papers apart from her.
Speaking further, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs said that even while Seinye Lulu-Briggs has busied herself with maligning his person and name and that of the family while converting the estates of the late High Chief to her name , he said the family is not interested in discussing all the noise she has been making all over social media via her spokesperson because what is important to them is to get the mortal remains of their father and proceed to plan for his burial according to the customs.
Seinye, who had gone to media saying that she had procured a probate’s grant and is executing “the will” of the late High Chief, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs says that he is not bothered by what she says on the media because if there would be a contest of the will or reading of any will, it would be after they had laid their father to rest and not before.
Chief Dumo who was visibly angry continued;
Who is talking about property with Seinye as her spokesman goes about insulting people over?
By right, I and my siblings are well off and what we are interested in from the day we were told our father had passed on has been for Seinye to give us the body of our father so we can proceed to plan for his burial and nothing else. Why is she afraid then to hand over the mortal remains since she claims she already has the Probates’ Grant to execute whatever she wants to execute or is our father’s body part of the things she seeks to also own as property?
Seinye has gone ahead and carried out an investigation on herself by herself and even purportedly brandished a letter from the private jet company in Malta absolving her of any wrong doing or crime. Who accused her of any wrong doing? What is she running around for trying to exonerate herself from?
A letter which her aide after brandishing it online in excitement realized that it may be fake or draw more questions and he pulled it off his social media handles and hers? Why was he in a hurry to post a document he had no idea of its authenticity? This has raised further questions as what Seinye may be covering and why she felt the need to continue to delay the burial of our late Father and her husband as she claims she loved him.
Seinye Lulu-Briggs backtracks, apologizes to Governor Wike in a second letter: Truth is being revealed.
“I was taken aback by the statement attributed to His Excellency, in the same press release, that I insulted him in the course of his gracious interventions. To the best of my knowledge the last meeting with the Governor along with my son Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs on the 20th of September 2019 ended without rancor and with a resolution for each party to send settlement proposals to the Governor through the Attorney General of Rivers State, which was complied with.’ -Seinye Lulu-Briggs
Very funny that Seinye Lulu-Briggs will feign surprise and shock at something she did knowingly. Perhaps it is because the Governor has now made it open and public to show the real masquerade behind the delay of the burial of the Late High Chief O B Lulu-Briggs and the need for her to continue to cling onto her false morality and piety that she has been forced to come out and feign shock and surprise. Nonetheless, the masquerade has been unmasked and just as expected, truth is being revealed.
In her response sent via her spokesperson Oraye St. Franklyn, Seinye Lulu-Briggs forgot intentionally to state the whereabouts of the mortal remains of the late High Chief and when she would be releasing the remains to the Oruwari Briggs family as tradition demands so they can go ahead and plan the burial of the late sage.
Seinye Lulu-Briggs must understand that there can be no planning of the burial of any individual without the mortal remains of the deceased being sighted first. That is in line with the African tradition and in line with the customs and traditions of the Kalabari land where she is also a part and parcel of. She cannot feign ignorance of this at least. But that is if she does in truth intend to be truthful and respectful to the laws of the land, customarily and otherwise.
In her first letter which Seinye Lulu-Briggs claims she did not insult his excellency Governor Nyesom Wike, it is important to remind her that she titled the letter “WITHOUT PREJUDICE”. Seinye Lulu-Briggs claimed that the Governor threatened her with a revocation of Certificate of Occupancy to estates belonging to the late High Chief and this is a blatant lie.
Whilst, Seinye Lulu-Briggs through her spokesperson , Oraye St. Franklyn Esq has used all possible and available forms of media in a desperate bid to taint and malign the name and person of chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, labeling him with all sorts of vile names and titles which has failed to work in his favor or that of his principal, does she not also consider that a disrespect to the memory and name of the late High Chief ?
The claims of supposed settlement proposal by Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs which they have claimed and threatened to release to the public till date which has not been seen or sighted by even immortals?
Seinye Lulu-Briggs ought to know that her game is up and there will be no further rigmarole that can prevent her from releasing the mortal remains of the late High Chief to the Oruwari Briggs family for onward preparation of burial plans unless she is inadvertently telling us that she faked his death in a bid to convert his estates and wealth to herself. Considering her recent antics for the past one year of his demise, Seinye Lulu-Briggs is suspect in foul play which will come to naught in the end. Truth eventually prevails in the end.
“I publicly acknowledge with the deepest gratitude efforts made by Governor Wike and our Royal Father, His Serene Majesty Professor T.J.T Princewill, Amachree XI, the Amayanabo of Kalabari Kingdom as well as other respected friends of the late High Chief to resolve the needless differences within our family.”- Seinye Lulu-Briggs
After public acknowledgement, what is the right thing for Seinye to do? Release the mortal remains of her late husband to family if indeed she is contrite and prepared to lay his memory to peaceful rest? Why is she not including her inclination to acquiesce to that simple request by the Oruwari Briggs Family for months in her response to the public reply she has suddenly deemed fit to send to the executive governor of the state?
Why is she still holding on to the mortal remains if indeed she agrees to toe the path to peaceful resolution? What is Seinye Lulu-Briggs hiding that has made her act in such a manner as to holding the mortal remains of a man who loved and cared for her and made her who she is today to ransom? Why has seinye Lulu-Briggs chosen the path of ignominy instead of the path of wife of a Great man as High Chief O B Lulu-Briggs? A man who stamped upon her his imprimatur of excellence and elegance.
The needless differences as she referenced in her letter refers to the continued kidnap of the mortal remains of High chief O B Lulu-Briggs which she originated and planned and executed herself in Ghana.
No good wife of any man of the late High Chief’s status and ill-health at the day she claimed he traveled for vacation in Ghana would pick up a man and put him in a chartered flight without his necessary medical equipment which had sustained him thus far till his 88th birthday which he celebrated peacefully in the presence of his children and grandchildren and family members.
No sane good wife of any man would deliberately put a man in his condition at that time in a plane with closed doors and keep the flight on ground in Port Harcourt Airport for 5 hours before take off without any form of proper ventilation and medical care.
These and many more are questions which has been begging for answers but till date Seinye has been unable to provide these answers and in her bid to not answer these questions has resorted to kidnap of mortal remains to avoid a proper autopsy to done on the mortal remains of the late High Chief as ordered by a competent court of jurisdiction in Ghana.
In all of this, what has been the position of the second son of the late High Chief, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs? His position has remained same from day 1, “Give me the remains of my late father, so we can plan for his burial according the customs of the Kalabari people”.
In response to all of this, what was Seinye’s response to all of this? First, she ghosts the remains of her late husband and spirits away to faraway Ghana and institutes a legal action barring the entire family from accessing the mortal remains and then she proceeds to conversion of his estates and businesses to her name and goes ahead to forge a will and reads to herself and audience.
Comes back and accuses the interim head of the Oruwari Briggs Chieftaincy House of conspiracy to charge her with murder in a bid to covet the estates of the late sage for which she has apologized in letter dated 2nd of August ,2019.
Question remains; Will Seinye Lulu-Briggs heed to wise counsel and surrender the mortal remains of the late High Chief to the family for appropriate actions to kick-start in earnest for the burial of the late Polodabo High Chief O B Lulu-Briggs?
That remains to be seen or heard as we all await to see her next hand in the horrible game she is playing.