The last may not have been heard of the crisis rocking the family of billionaire oil mogul, High Chief Dr. O. B. Lulu-Briggs following the mild drama that played out during his funeral in Abonnema on Saturday, March 13, 2021.
The event which attracted the attendance of former President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience Jonathan also had the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke and his wife Onari Duke as the major dignitaries.
However, just as the funeral service was to begin, Governor of Rivers State and his delegation which included Donald Duke and his wife left the event unceremoniously. The reason for their abrupt departure could not be immediately determined. But insider sources indicate that it may not be unconnected with the exclusion of the widow of the late High Chief from the funeral arrangements.
Since Lulu-Briggs demise, there have been controversies surrounding his burial, with the latest being the alleged takeover of the burial by heavy private security presence as well an influx of dare-devil looking youths who seemed primed to shutout unwanted persons at the event.
Despite the two years delay induced by protracted family litigations over his vast assets, Lulu-Briggs burial plan in 2021 without the involvement of his widow, Seinye Lulu-Briggs, had stirred serious controversy amongst his kinsmen as several Kalabari chiefs and concerned stakeholders had insisted that the deceased’s second Son, Chief Dumo allow his stepmother, Seinye to pay her last respects to her husband.
He, however, according to reports also refused to implement the decisions agreed by a committee set up by the Amayanabo of Abonnema (based on a mandate by Governor Wike to bring the parties together to ensure a unified and dignified burial for one of Nigeria’s most admired statesmen) in the wake of public outrage at the exclusion by Dumo of his widow, Dr Mrs Seinye O. B. Lulu-Briggs and his siblings from the planning for their patriarch’s burial.
A guest at the funeral who pleaded anonymity said, ”I really do not know what to say. God is not happy. May God have mercy. It is unbelievable that she is not here to eulogise her husband according to Kalabari custom. Seinye does not deserve this. She gave her life to him. Chief, after living his own life, also lived part of Seinye’s life. God will definitely comfort her.”
Others believe that the tensed and controversial nature of the ceremony may have been why high-profile guests from across Nigeria stayed back.
Speaking at the event, former President Goodluck Jonathan said the late Lulu-Briggs lived a life that touched lives.
His words, “I knew Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs and met him in 2007 when I got involved in national politics as vice president and had to oversee the Niger Delta Region.
“He was one of those who were recommended that I should work with. And it worked exactly as said. He helped us in many ways in Government.
“Chief was a very sophisticated man. Though he started quite small, see how he ended big; by this teaching us a big lesson that it does not matter how small you start, what matters more is how you end your life.
“We are all gathered here because the Chief lived a life that touched lives.”