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Seinye Lulu-Briggs as the metaphor for repugnant widowhood practices in Africa

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The travails of Dr. (Mrs.) Seinye O. B. Lulu-Briggs is nothing strange. As Africans we are accustomed to these things. Stepmothers are often the ‘cause’ of the estrangement of stepchildren with their fathers.

The matter is made worse if the age difference of the children and their stepmother is not much. You know the typical Nollywood script. This is not to say some stepmothers are not truly bad. No. But not all stepmothers are evil.

First off, Dr. Mrs. Seinye Lulu-Briggs is not within the age range of Dumo Lulu-Briggs, her stepson and Accuser in Chief. She is his elder and mother by every stretch of imagination.

She is not also the cause of his estranged relationship with his father. She met it that way upon being married to him and has done all she possibly can to ensure peace reigned between them and she relatively succeeded in that motherly duty to the best of her ability. Until recently, since the death of her husband, she has been painted with all sorts of despicable brushes as the young woman who came to corner a billionaire’s fortune and, as claimed by those speaking on Dumo’s behalf, disinherit his children from their father’s estate. That is not true although it fits the perfect Nollywood blockbuster script, given the prevalence of such in the typical African society.

For a start, she is a well established Information Technology professional in her own rights. She began her career with the Central Bank of Nigeria as being part of its pioneer Computer Services Department. She would later work with the now defunct Oceanic Bank where she rose to the enviable rank of Head of Administration. How she and the late patriarch of the Oruwari Briggs War Canoe House struck a chord is within their rights to remain private. But they lived well as friends, partners and legally and legitimately wedded Husband and Wife for nearly 2 decades until his passing last December.

Prior to then, she lived a very private life. Seldom seen in public and primarily preoccupied with tending to her husband while managing affairs both at the home and business fronts given her vast experience and the confidence reposed in her by her husband.

Upon his demise there has been a dossier of unprintable allegations against her by the estranged sons of her husband in a raging charge led by Dumo, the second of Seplat oil and gas fame. While the claim in the open, until recently, is that she killed their father and has ousted them from his estate. The private scheme is to bully her to discountenance the man’s Will, wherein he stated that he had in his lifetime given them their share of his estate as they demanded. Thus, their current onslaught is aimed at possessing the estate and nothing more. It is their pre-condition for burying a man they call their father.

While on one breath they deny this claim, on the other, they say they are being ousted as beneficiaries of their ‘biological’ father’s estate while a woman without a biological child with their father reigns over their ‘rights’. It’s a conflicting mismatch of claims and counterclaims. Fortunately, in his Will, Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs acknowledges who are his biological and nonbiological children and catered for everyone’s interest. Those claiming biological links to him and currently delaying his interment were reminded by him of their settlement in his lifetime. Why are they, who had eaten their cakes yesterday, still wishing to have it today?

The allegation of murder that they accuse their stepmother of is nothing new. Almost every widow in Africa suffers the same fate. It’s a metaphor for our decadent values system. Her saving grace is God Almighty and her strength of character. Otherwise, she ought to have been broken by the bombardeering attacks. But she’s fine and doing quite well in many respects as a woman of strength.

Her call remains for the abeyance of all property related claims until her husband, whom they call their ‘biological’ father is respectfully buried. To show good faith, at Dumo’s insistence of having 50% of Moni Pulo Limited, a successful Oil producing company his father founded, as precondition for peace, she accepted but with the caveat that it must not be for him alone but include his siblings. As fair as this was, he threw it up in her face. How then is she the issue?

Dumo through his spokesman one Ijuye Dagogo is currently brandishing court papers of a suit that restrains him from obtaining the mortal remains of High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs with the rhetorical question of how he can bury his father in the circumstance.

The real question is: Will they please tell if the suit was initiated before he fixed the burial of High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs, bought a casket for the conveyance of his earthly remains and subsequently cancelled the burial on account of his gubernatorial election? The answer is No.

Can they also please tell if the suit was initiated after he did a petition to the Nigerian Police alleging among others that his, over 60 year old, stepmother killed his father and that he subsequently went to the Ghanaian Police himself to unilaterally and nocturnally move them to take custody of the earthly remains of his ‘biological’ father with the intention to privately conduct an autopsy? The answer is yes.

The woman is within her rights to ensure Dumo is estopped from using the Mortal Remains of the revered High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs as an item of negotiation or with which to fabricate phantom evidence to support his despicable claim that she killed him.

To this end, she went to court to restrain his custody of the body for the purpose of solely and privately conducting an autopsy. She was not against an autopsy procedure although she knew it was unnecessary. She only prayed the court to determine the proper procedure for the autopsy.

Thankfully, the autopsy has since been done to ascertain how the 88 year old man died, as demanded by Dumo and as directed by the court. The preliminary report says he died of Cardiac Arrest. The full report is being expected.

Dumo’s representatives observed the autopsy process. None has countered the procedure to this day. None has disputed the preliminary report even by the whiskers.

Any reasonable person in Dr. (Mrs.) Seinye O. B. Lulu-Briggs’ shoes, knowing what she does about the way her husband was humiliated in his lifetime by his son, when he was dragged to court 4 times in Abuja, Lagos, London and Houston, and against the backdrop of his accusation that she killed a man she nursed and loved for almost 2 decades, will take reasonable steps to ensure Dumo is estopped from embarking on his sinister and self-centered plot.

Once again the point is being made that she remains ready to ensure the mortal remains of her beloved husband is buried. She has made an appeal to the respected Chiefs of Oruwari Briggs House of Abonnema and continues to do so today, that they wade into the matter and ensure the patriarch of the Oruwari Briggs War Canoe house of Abonnema is dignified in death and buried respectfully. She believes that they are men of honour and have now seen the light as the truth is finally out. She has given assurances to all who intervene on the issue that at any date of her Chief Accuser, Dumo’s choosing she is prepared to ensure the remains of her husband is laid to rest, so far as guarantees are made that the remains of the man would not be further decimated, denigrated, humiliated and shamed by his ‘biological son’ Dumo, in the guise of fishing for how an 88 year old man suffering 2 decades of Parkinson’s was allegedly killed.

This remains her solemn appeal.

Oraye St. Franklyn, spokesman for Dr. Mrs. Seinye Lulu-Briggs, writes from Lagos.


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