CLAIM 1: The crisis in the family is as a result of the controversy surrounding the death of the family patriarch.
THE TRUTH: What is the controversy surrounding High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs’ death? The insistence by High Chiefs eldest sons Dumo, Senibo and Sofiri that he did not die a natural death? Or Dumo’s desire to use the Kalabari tradition that it is sons who bury their fathers to grab his own father’s ‘wealth.’ Dumo and his brothers ‘lost’ it as a result of their greed which led them to frame their father and charge him to court in the early 2000s in order to force him out of Moni Pulo Limited (the oil company he established in 1991)? Back then they boxed him into a corner, and he had no option but to negotiate his way out through two settlement agreements. This irrevocably strained their relationship with their father. They are now attempting to box their stepmother into a corner and force her hand in a similar manner?
The strain in the family blew up in the public space a few weeks after the death of High Chief Lulu-Briggs last December in Accra and the family is split into two opposing camps. On the one hand is High Chief’s elder sons Senibo, Dumo and Sofiri. Led by Dumo, who is Chairman of Platform Petroleum Limited. They appear to have the backing of a few of their compound Chiefs in Abonnema. On the other hand, is the High Chief’s widow, Dr. (Mrs.) Seinye O.B. Lulu-Briggs, who has been by his side for the last two decades, and their four other children.
CLAIM 2: The family patriarch, Chief OB Lulu Briggs did not die a natural death
This statement is being peddled by the faction of the family led by Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, his brothers Senibo and Sofiri and their associates. Variants of this claim include that High Chief Lulu-Briggs died in Port Harcourt and his body was smuggled to Accra, Ghana. Another version is that the late chief died in the aircraft during his journey to Accra. While Dumo, the Chiefs and the widow were attending to his father’s burial plans, Dumo with his brothers (Senibo and Sofiri), beguilingly sent a petition to the Nigeria Police Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Abuja accusing Dr. (Mrs.) Lulu-Briggs of murdering their father.
THE TRUTH: Following almost seven months of investigation by the police in Nigeria and Ghana – and an autopsy conducted by Ghana police at a military hospital in Accra, it has been proven that High Chief Lulu-Briggs died a natural death. The final result of the autopsy is still being awaited. Furthermore, the chartered flight operators that flew members of the O.B. Lulu-Briggs family, staff and friends from Port Harcourt to Accra on the 27thof December 2018, confirmed that the late statesman alighted from the aircraft alive at Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana. Soon after that his nurse asked for an ambulance when she noticed his pulse was weak. Treatment began in the ambulance which took him to the airport clinic where the doctor on duty continued treating him, including administering CPR. Sadly, he later pronounced that Chief had passed on to glory. High Chief Lulu-Briggs died at the age of 88 years and 7 months- despite living with several pathologies. A 35-page medical report that chronicled his medical care was received by the Nigeria Police Force CIID as part of the evidence gathered in their investigations. It illustrates the fact that the High Chief received the best possible medical care available in the world, including 24-hour professional nursing care for the over 4 years. Why would his oldest sons assume that he did not die a natural death?
CLAIM 3: The widow of the late High Chief Lulu-Briggs hid the death from the family and has refused to release the body
THE TRUTH: This allegation is preposterous. One of their sons, Dateim Lulu-Briggs was amongst the fifteen people on board the flight. In addition, the High Chief passed in a public space under the gaze of so many eyes, how could she have contained the news. Indeed, despite the shocking development, Dr Mrs. Seinye O.B. Lulu-Briggs was sensible enough to immediately inform their children including Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs of her husband’s death. Specifically, in the case of Dumo, he did not respond to her calls. She handed her phone to his brother Dateim, who eventually reached him and broke the news to him. Dumo and his brothers arrived the following day, on the 28th of December in the evening. On 29th of December, the High Chief Lulu-Briggs’ entire immediate family proceeded to the funeral home where his body was to pay final respects. Burial plans were discussed, amicably, and the 26thof January 2019 was agreed upon for the burial. Indeed, Senibo and Dumo, his two elder sons, immediately made arrangements and paid for a casket that would be used to bring back his body to Nigeria. Thereafter, they received the casket and it is presently deposited at the mortuary. visited the mortuary at least twice on their own. As later directed by the Oruwari Briggs Chiefs and relayed by Dumo to High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs’ immediate family they agreed that the body would remain in the mortuary in Accra until arrangements for his burial had been made when it would be transported back for burial. The Oruwari Briggs House Chiefs announced the death of its Paramount Head, High Chief Dr O.B. Lulu-Briggs in the media in January 2019. On the 1st of January 2019 Dumo also announced the passing of his father on his social media and suspended his Rivers State Gubernatorial Campaign for a week. Why then turn around and insist in a hostile manner that Mrs. O.B. Lulu-Briggs has refused to release the body for burial when together as a family steps towards burial had been agreed and acted upon without rancor? What changed and why?
CLAIM 4: The widow of the late High Chief Lulu-Briggs has filed several lawsuits in Ghana to frustrate efforts by Dumo and his allies to retrieve the body of their father
THE TRUTH: Dumo Lulu-Briggs was the first to surreptitiously go to Law in Accra when he wrote a petition to the Director General of Ghana Police Criminal Investigation Department. This culminated in the issuance of an order by the Kaneshie District Magistrate Court in Accra, seeking to get Transitions Place, the private mortuary where his father’s body is being kept, to release the body to himself without the consent of the widow. A total of 3 such orders were issued by Mrs. E.K. Barnes-Botchway on July 12, 2019. The order in favour of Dumo – was subsequently successfully challenged by lawyers to Mrs. Seinye O.B. Lulu-Briggs at the High Court, Accra. The legal steps taken by Mrs. Seinye Lulu-Briggs were therefore in response to the orders given by the magistrate. The orders state that an autopsy be carried out at the Police Hospital with a pathologist appointed by Dumo as a party to the process but without representation from Mrs. O.B. Lulu-Briggs and the rest of the High Chief’s children.
CLAIM 5: Widow of the late High Chief Lulu-Briggs is a greedy woman interested only in cornering the wealth of the family
THE TRUTH: The Will and last testament of High Chief Lulu-Briggs was read in court on the July 26th of July 2019. It made clear the wishes of the late businessman on who gets what.
Although this Will is being contested by Dumo, who had filed another Will which he said his father gave him in 2003 at another court, it already clears the air on the pattern of family inheritance, according to the dictates of the man who built the businesses. It is now evident that while he was alive, High Chief Dr. O.B. Lulu-Briggs established and transferred al his assets to a trust company. The High Chief is also clear about the fact that he considers the settlement fees he paid Senibo, Dumo and Sofiri in 2003 and 2004 was their inheritance from him. Accordingly, in his Will he bequeathed his wealth to his other children and his grandchildren, including those of three eldest children.
Interestingly, Moni Pulo Limited did not form part of the High Chief’s Will as he had in 2012 gifted all his shares in the company to his wife and his Foundation. It is no surprise therefore that Dumo now wants to sit and control the oil company and the Foundation. Dumo also demanded 50% of her shares in Moni Pulo at a recent ‘Let’s Bury Chief’ intervention meeting. Mrs. O.B. Lulu-Briggs refused to negotiate with Dumo but agreed to gift 50% of her shares to ALL her children, including Dumo. This was not to the liking of Dumo who, despite the reading of his father’s Will, set out listing his father’s assets and his own sharing formula, with him being the benevolent one instead of his father. He is adamant that until Mrs. O.B. Lulu-Briggs enters into a settlement that he deems befitting he will NOT bury his father.
CLAIM 6: Dumo is fighting to protect the legacy of his father.
THE TRUTH: All actions taken by Dumo since the death of his father have actually threatened, rather than promoted his father’s legacy. He has set the police, the NFIU and the EFCC on his father’s beloved wife and on their businesses with a view to causing harm, embarrassment, creating a sense that the businesses are not operated ethically. Through the lawsuits,he is attempting to ground the operations of these businesses. Are these the actions of a man upholding his father’s legacies? Or is he bent on using all means necessary to grab his father’s wealth and build up his own oil assets in Platform Petroleum Limited and Seplat Petroleum Development Company PLC, at the expense of Muni Pulo Limited.
Dumo, Senibo and Sofiri fought their father while he was alive to take over the businesses but did not succeed to forcefully retire the man. They fraudulently attempted to take control of Moni Pulo Limited from their father by charging him to courts in Abuja, Lagos, Houston and London in the early 2000s.They lost the battle then and, in the process, ruined their relationship with their father. In the ensuing years, while he was alive, they failed to build it back. The current hostilities that they instigated and are sustaining against their father’s widow is viewed by many observers as a continuation of the oedipal struggle against their father. To settle the multiple lawsuits in the 2000s, their late father entered into two settlements through which the three sons – Senibo, Dumo and Sofiri- returned the shares of Moni Pulo Ltd which they fraudulently allocated themselves. Part of the agreements was that they would hands off the company in perpetuity, after which they were paid a handsome sum. Their father stated in his Will that he considered the payments their inheritance. But now that he died, they have renewed their plot to seize their father’s assets, not minding their father’s wishes, his other children, and his widow.
No doubt they have chosen to forget what their father stated at a family meeting he convened on the afternoon of July 8, 2008 at which all his children were present, -“no one knows tomorrow, that if he is not around, Chief (Mrs.) Seinye O.B. Lulu-Briggs his wife, and that no one should disturb her. The Chief stated that in his absence, his wife is the head of family and what she says is final…he has forgiven them (Senibo, Sofiri and Dumo)… the name Lulu-Briggs cannot suffer again.” The gathering was closed with a prayer by his cousin, Mrs. Ineba Eudora Monima-Briggs.
Instead of respecting their father’s wishes they are vilifying his widow in public and attempting to diminish rather than uphold their father’s illustrious achievements. Thankfully no one, not even them, his beloved sons, can diminish him and change the facts about his admirable achievements and his manifold legacies.
- Publication sponsored by beneficiaries of High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs’ genorousity in Rivers State and beyond.