Maltreatment of Seinye Lulu-Briggs by her stepsons unacceptable – Group

African Women Lawyers Association, AWLA, Rivers State Chapter has regretted the persecution of Dr Mrs Seinye O. B. Lulu-Briggs, wife of the late oil magnate, late High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs by her stepson, Dumo Lulu-Briggs.

The widow came under fire from her stepsons after the demise of Chief Lulu-Briggs on 27th December 2018.

They are struggling over the control of the $20 billion business empire left by the late chief, including Moni Pulo, a lucrative oil firm.

Hilda Desmond Ihekaire, the Secretary of the association, while discussing the proposed amendments to the Dehumanizing and Harmful Traditional Practices Law of Rivers State No. 2 of 2003 noted that highly placed women just like other female members of society are not spared from the dehumanization arising from harmful traditional practices.

She said that all hands should be on deck to end the menace.

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While praising the state assembly for the bill, she said the law proscribes the maltreatment of women after the death of their husbands such as causing them to cry at guided intervals, drinking water from the corpse of their husbands, shaving of their hairs, ostracizing them, being forced to abstain from personal hygiene, sitting on broken coconut, swearing before a shrine of their innocence, prevention from inheriting husbands property amongst others.

“In Africa generally, Rivers State is not an exception, once a man dies they just feel that it is the woman that has killed the man.

“So they make her go through all sorts of dehumanizing practices. It doesn’t even matter whether you’re a village woman or the high and mighty.

“As we can see with the death of O. B. Lulu-Briggs, they are trying to impute that his wife killed him. It is not acceptable. These mistreatments as we can see affect all women irrespective of their status in life.

“This is why AWLA is supporting the amendment of the bill to protect the rights of women.”

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“The law was initially passed with a penalty of imprisonment or the option of a fine of N10,000 in some cases. However, that failed to stem the trend and thus she calls for the proposed amendment with stiffer penalties and without an option of fine”.

A Ghanaian granted an application filed by Dumo Lulu Brigg and his brothers for an inquest into the death of their father.

A Kaneshie district court in a ruling dated September 6, E.K Barnes-Botchway, a magistrate, ordered for an inquest to be conducted on the deceased businessman.

The court in its ruling also ordered the Ghana police to make all processes and documents in its custody available.

In a will read at the Port Harcourt High Court, the late businessman excluded his three sons but included their children.

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Dumo had alleged a foul play in the death of his father, accusing his stepmother who travelled with him of killing him.

The allegation sparked dispute in the family preventing his burial since he died on December 27, 2018, in a Ghana hospital.

“Upon reading the affidavit of Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs of Nigeria, the applicant herein filed on the 5th day of September 2019 in support of motion ex-parte for an order of inquest,” the court held.

Upon hearing, Andrew Khartey led by Maame Tutua Temeng and holding the brief of Nana Agyei Baffour Awuah’s brief herein in person; It is at this moment ordered that:

“An inquest should be conducted on the death of the deceased, Chief Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs because I ordered for an autopsy to be undertaken on the deceased following an application for post-mortem by the Ghana Police Service (C.I.D Headquarters).

“The report is yet to be submitted since July 2019. With this additional information to the one that forms the basis of the police application, I have reasonable cause to believe that the deceased did not die a natural death and I, therefore, deem an inquest necessary and accordingly order for one to be done.

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“The Ghana Police Service (C.I.D) is ordered to make available to this court all processes and documents in their custody, including the autopsy report.” The Cable reports.

The Nigeria police, in partnership with the Ghana police, had launched an investigation into his death following a petition by Dumo, second eldest son of the deceased, to the inspector-general of police accusing Seinye, his stepmother, of killing his father.

He had requested an autopsy to determine the death of his father, but findings had concluded that the deceased did not die a violent death as alleged.

Dumo, however, faulted the process saying Seinye, the widow, still has a lot of questions to answer.

Subsequently, lawyers to the three sons of the late billionaire had written a protest letter to the director-general, criminal investigation department of the Ghana police service, demanding another autopsy by order of the high court in Accra on July 18, 2019.

They had said the autopsy conducted was contrary to the court order which had mandated a military doctor to do the post mortem after an agreement reached by the family.