In Africa, Nigeria in particular, old people are allowed to rest, laid to rest as soon as they pass on or as quickly as the family can arrange a decent burial. It is almost unheard of that an octogenarian, no matter how poor is left unburied for more than a few months, let alone a multi – billionaire.
As a matter of fact, most people once past age, 70 insist that their corpses must be buried swiftly after death.
Unfortunately, this is not the case with one of Kalabari’s most distinguished citizens, an outstandingly successful businessman a formidable Nigerian and generous philanthropist, High Chief Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs, who allegedly died upon arrival at the Katoka International Airport aboard a private flight to Ghana on December 28, 2018 in the company of his wife, Seinye Lulu-Briggs.
Sadly, Abonnema born Rivers State High Chief Lulu Briggs, who reportedly doled out money to less privileged families to bury their dead, has not been allowed to rest in peace.
His corpse is now on ‘public display’ on the world – wide – web with his wife holding on to his body and his children fighting to retrieve it.
How exactly did High Chief Lulu Briggs end up in a tangle where his corpse is being put through such extreme public scrutiny and his family at loggerheads over his dead body?
The bone of contention is ‘cause of death’ and an alleged understated scramble for inheritance.
High Chief Lulu-Briggs had married Seinye as his bride while already in his prime years. With four children, Seinye became a lead player in the life and business of the billionaire.
No doubt she was the love of his later years and support pillar in ill-health but the question is, if she was all of these, why is there a vacuum in the burial of High Chief Lulu Briggs?
On the one hand, the High Chief’s children led by Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, First son of the Billionaire who is alleging that the family suspects foul play in the death of the High Chief and Seinye Lulu-Briggs who has not allowed access to the corpse of her husband for burial as she alleges the family wants her ‘implicated’ in his death.
While Seinye is insisting that the required autopsy had been done in Ghana by top medical examiners from Ghana and Nigeria, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, has disapproves the High Court-ordered autopsy which was reportedly done at the 37 Military Hospital, Accra, Ghana on Friday 19th July 2019.
Dumo Briggs subsequently initiated an inquest into the cause of death of his father in a District Court which ordered a judicial inquiry into the death of the billionaire.
The court granted an ex-parte motion application filed by Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, stating that events following the philanthropist’s death gave it reasonable cause to believe that he did not die of natural causes, and ordered the police to produce all processes and documents in their custody, including an autopsy report.
“An inquest should be conducted on the death of the deceased, an autopsy to be undertaken on the deceased following an application for post-mortem by the Ghana Police Service” the court said.
Seinye Lulu Briggs on her part challenged the jurisdiction of the court which had ordered a coroner’s inquest into the probable cause of death of her husband.
Between Chief Dumo Lulu Briggs and Seinye Lulu Briggs, there are not less than 14 court actions going back and forth while the corpse of High Chief Lulu Briggs begs for rest.
While Seinye insists that there had been dates set for the burial of the late billionaire in the past but were not accepted by Dumo Briggs, Dumo says he is insistent on giving his father a good burial if only Seinye will release the corpse.
Indeed youths of Abomena have become very angry over the mishandling of the corpse of High Chief Briggs and want him buried immediately.
On his part, one of Abonema’s foremost sons, Asari Dokubo has accused Seinye of insensitiveness and denigrating the culture of the people of Abonema. He alleges, in a released video that her motive may be sinister as logical reasoning goes beyond her action.
Among other things, Dokubo accused Seinye Lulu-Briggs of trying to deprive the children of the Billionaire of their father’s property.
But in an interview granted Premium Times where she claimed Dumo Lulu Briggs intends to use his father’s corpse as a bargaining chip, Seinye declared: “The fact that my beloved husband has not yet been buried is a source of great anguish and pain particularly because he did not like delayed burials. He often said a dead person should be allowed to go and rest as quickly as possible.
And in keeping with his generosity, he would even provide funds to families who were too distressed to give their dearly departed a dignified burial. But, be that as it may, the burial of my late husband has been delayed because of opposition from some of his sons who appeared to think that the only way they can take over their father’s assets is to hijack his funeral and blackmail the rest of the family to bow to their demands.”
While the indegines of Abonema, Rivers State and the entire country beg the Briggs to sheathe the sword and give a great citizen a befitting burial,
The man in the eye of the storm, Dumo Lulu Briggs asks? “How do I bury my father when I don’t have the body?