By Funmilola Olukomaiya
The news of Dr. (Mrs.) Seinye O. B. Lulu-Briggs’ challenge of jurisdiction and orders of the Kaneshie District Magistrate in Accra, Ghana, for an inquest on the death of her beloved husband and respected Nigerian Nationalist, High Chief, Dr. O. B. Lulu-Briggs has been reported by a presumably Ghanaian online tabloid, Graphic Online (Graphic.com.gh).
The report is widely circulated online by interested parties and necessitates this response.
Dr. (Mrs.) Seinye O. B. Lulu-Briggs’ challenge of the jurisdiction of the Magistrate Court seeking to order an inquest is founded on proper footing and based on the following reasons:
1. The same Kaneshie District Magistrate Court had earlier granted an order for an autopsy on the earthly remains of High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs, an 88 year old man, who managed Parkinson’s for an upwards of 2 decades.
The Ghanaian Police carried out the said order and has conducted an autopsy. The preliminary report of that autopsy was that the deceased was not murdered but died of Cardiac Arrest. However, the full Autopsy report including the Toxicology report is being awaited.
The violation of Coroners’ fair and proper procedures by the Kaneshie District Magistrate, who sits as Coroner, in determining the basis for ordering an inquest, which ought to be in reliance of and based on the contents of an autopsy report, lends credence to the claim of bias by the Magistrate, as her order was not based on any autopsy report.
2. The argument that the Kaneshie District Magistrate Court lacks the jurisdiction to order an inquest on the death of High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs, an octogenarian, is founded on good reason. The matter is before a High Court in Ghana. The accusers of Dr. (Mrs.) Seinye Lulu-Briggs ought to know this.
3. The claim of bias by Dr. (Mrs.) Seinye Lulu-Briggs on the part of the Kaneshie District Magistrate Court is truly not unfounded. The said Court was unfair and acted illegally, irrationally, and procedurally improperly to have ordered the inquest relying only on an uncertain ex-parte evidence provided by Mrs Lulu-Briggs’ Chief accuser, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs.
The violation of the Coroner’s Act, 1960 (Act 18) by the said Magistrate, which stipulates that a Coroner can only conduct an evidentiary hearing after a decision to conduct an inquest rather than before the decision to conduct an inquest, lends credence to the Magistrate’s bias.
4. The issuance of two separate defective ex-parte applications by Mrs E.K. Barnes-Botchway of the Kaneshie District Magistrate Court, on Friday, the 6th of September 2019, based on the request of Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, speaks volumes of the real import of the application. In the said order, the Magistrate and Coroner, Mrs. Mrs E.K. Barnes-Botchway expressed her bias that she was of the opinion that High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs did not die a natural death. The question is: how did she come by such a monumental conclusion and without relying on an autopsy report?
For the avoidance of doubt, 6 Pathologists were present when the said autopsy on the remains of respected High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs was done. Dr. (Mrs.) Seinye O. B. Lulu-Briggs and wife of the deceased had two representatives among the 6, as was with her Chief Accuser and billionaire son of the deceased, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs of Seplat Oil. The other two pathologists were from the Ghanaian Police. This was in spite of the presence of two officers of the Nigerian Police: ACP Adaku Uche-Anya and ASP Justus Ogar. The Autopsy was conducted by Pathologists of the Ghanaian Military at the reputable 37 Military Hospital in Accra, Ghana.
The President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Francis Adedayo Faduyile, who was flown to Ghana for the exercise, was one of Chief Dumo Lulu Briggs’ Pathologists. His second Pathologist was the very respected Ghanaian Prof. Akosua B. Domfeh of the Yale University School of Medicine. To this day, none of those present during the autopsy have countered its preliminary report and none of them opposed the procedure adopted in carrying out the autopsy.
The only challenger of the procedure of the autopsy, as expected, was Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs himself, who had demanded for a tissue sample of the deceased for his external and private use. While his request begged reason, it was within the purview of the Ghanaian Police to either accede to it or not. They declined to.
Dr. (Mrs.) Seinye Lulu-Briggs, a sexagenarian, in respect of the dignity, heritage and legacy of her beloved husband has kept mum over her mounting media trial that casts her and the entire Lulu-Briggs Family in bad light. For the homogeneity of the entire family of High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs, including all his children, she is willing to maintain her dignified silence. She appeals to all stakeholders to impress upon her Chief Accuser to allow the earthly remains of his father receive a dignified interment without placing self-serving preconditions.
The accusation that she killed her 88-year-old ailing husband, whom she spent decades loving and nursing is unfortunate but pardonable.
The accusation that she seized his remains in Ghana and is unwilling to release it for interment is untrue.
She is more than willing to let the earthly remains of her beloved husband be buried at any date of her Chief Accuser’s choosing. What she would not do is to sit idly by and allow anyone fabricate fallacies to supposedly indict her, howsoever, for self-serving reasons that undermine and attempt to rubbish the worthy legacies of her beloved husband, High Chief (Dr.) Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs. He deserves better.
Oraye St. Franklyn Esq.
Spokesman, Dr. (Mrs.) Seinye O. B. Lulu-Briggs
18th October, 2019