There seems to be no immediate resolution to the fight among the family members of the founder of Moni Pulo Oil Prospecting Company, High Chief Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs, that has stalled the burial of the late billionaire more than thirteen months after his death.
The second son of the deceased, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs and his stepmother, Dr Seinye Lulu-Briggs are in a cold war over the circumstances surrounding his death and over who would take custody of the corpse.
His remains are yet to be brought back home and accorded a befitting burial according to Kalabari culture and tradition.
Seinye said that her stepson, Dumo is responsible for the delay in the release of the mortal remains of her late husband as ordered by the High Court in Ghana.
She disclosed that Dumo had failed to meet the pre-conditions which the Court ordered him to fulfill before the release of his father’s body for burial.
However, Dumo has denied the allegation, noting that he complied with the order to provide an undertaking by filing it in court on the same day of the ruling of the High Court.
Seinye, according to her spokesperson, Oraye St. Franklyn, said she was not ordered to release the body of her husband as was erroneously reported in some section of the media.
“How can she release something she has no custody of? If she had custody won’t the court be asking her to release the body,” Oraye said.
Recall that a Ghanaian High Court presided over by Justice Eric Kyei Baffour , in December 2019 had ordered the release of the body of the late billionaire for burial.
The order follows months of legal battle between Seinye and the three oldest sons of the deceased, led by Dumo over who is the rightful person to recover the body of the late High Chief from the Enterprise Funeral Services Ghana Limited at Lashibi near Tema where it had been deposited since he passed away over a year ago.
The judge, who had expressed the hope that his orders would bring the wrangling to an end so that the family can bury the deceased, gave the following specific orders:
- That the mortal remains of the deceased, High Chief (Dr.) Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs be released by the 4th Defendant, Enterprise Funeral Services Ghana Limited and the Ghana Police Service, to the family by custom, led by Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, to convey same to Nigeria, for the burial and funeral rites.
- That the delegation led by Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs that will convey the body of the deceased to Nigeria, should include two representatives of the Plaintiff/Widow, who should be part of the delegation that will convey the body to Nigeria.
- That the family of the deceased, led by Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, will give a binding unconditional undertaking that, under no circumstance will the family allow or suffer the Plaintiff/Widow to undergo any cruel, inhumane or barbaric customary practices in Nigeria, when the body is conveyed.
- That the family, led by Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, will further undertake that the Plaintiff/Widow will be ably represented in the burial and funeral preparations, and will be allowed to play her role as a widow mourning her deceased husband.
- The court further ordered the 37 Military Hospital which conducted an autopsy on the body of the deceased to file the autopsy report at the Registry of the Court within three (3) days upon service of the Order on the Hospital.
Seinye said her stepson appealed the release of the autopsy report instead of meeting the pre-conditions of the court.
“But the release of the filed autopsy report is now being blocked by an appeal by Dumo Lulu-Briggs. To what end, she asks. Possibly because Dumo does not wish the public to know that the filed autopsy report clearly stated that the High Chief Dr. O. B. Lulu-Briggs died of natural causes.
“Dr. Mrs Seinye Lulu-Briggs maintains her earlier assurance that should Dumo fulfill the above stated binding, unconditional undertakings imposed on him by the High Court of Ghana and allow the release of the report of the duly conducted autopsy on his father, which he instigated; she would withdraw her appeal against the judgement. Nevertheless, she questions the motive behind obtaining the body for burial without any clear burial plan.
“In her view, custody of the body is not necessary in planning the burial. She says that the blocking of the release of the report of the duly conducted autopsy, as well as the call for another autopsy by Dumo Lulu-Briggs, confirm her position that he is desperate to obtain the body because of his sinister motives and not necessarily for burial,” Oraye said in a statement.
Sotonye Ijuaye Dagogo, the spokesman of Dumo countered the claim, stressing that Seinye has made it difficult for the family to retrieve the body of the late billionaire as ordered by the court.
“Chief Dumo has already in same day of judgement deposited his undertaking in court that Seinye will not be subjected to any crude practices.
“What is hard in these conditions to meet that Chief Dumo would not immediately accede to,” he queried.
He added that instead of Seinye appointing her representatives as ordered, she decided to file for a stay of execution of the order and refused to accept invitation extended to her and her eldest daughter on how to plan for the burial of the late billionaire.
The Superior court of judicature siting in Accra, Ghana recently declined the appeal filed by Seinye for a stay of execution of the High Court judgement as battle over late billionaire’s remains moves to the Supreme Court.