It Was The Late High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs That Was Denied Justice Temporarily
As the Chiefs and family members of the late High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs are seriously preoccupied with the burial plans of their late Paramount Head, those who are only after the late billionaire’s estate are not resting.
On Monday, December 14, 2020 the media space was inundated with a screaming headline: “Court dismisses suit by Dumo Lulu-Briggs challenging father’s will” concluding that “by this ruling the last wishes and legacies of the late High Chief Dr. O.B. Lulu-Briggs have been fundamentally protected and stands as admitted to probate”.
The position of the head of the Lulu-Briggs family and the Innikeiroari VI of Kalabari, Chief Dumo O.B. Lulu-Briggs is that, as a mark of respect for their departed patriarch, all media brickbats must be halted during this period, leading to the burial early in the new year.
The media aides and associates of Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs have therefore remained silent on all the failed legal actions by Seinye Lulu-Briggs to overturn the ruling of the Coroner Court in Ghana which ruled that her husband died in Nigeria before he was airlifted to Ghana. Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs’ aides have been silent on applications by Seinye Lulu-Briggs, accusing a High Court Judge of bias and requesting that he recuse himself from the appeal she filed against the Coroner Court.
We are however constrained to put the facts straight in the latest distraction from Seinye Lulu-Briggs and her cohorts.
1. A Port Harcourt High Court presided over by Hon. Justice Nwogu, yesterday, Monday 14th December 2020 dismissed a suit brought before it by the heirs of the late High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs seeking to set aside the Probate granted in respect of a purported Will and Testament.
2. The three oldest sons of High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs were compelled to bring the action in court because, after the death of their father, while they were still mourning their loss and their father’s mortal remains were in a morgue in Ghana, Seinye Lulu-Briggs, through her Solicitor, Mr. Charles Adeogun-Phillips delivered to the Probate Registrar documents alleged to be the Last Will and Testament of Chief Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs and six (6) codicils along with Notarial Certifications and Attestations of a Consultant Physician, and they were registered in the Register at the Probate Registry of the Court as No. 3112.
3. Thereafter, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs on May 15, 2019 also delivered a Will handed to him by his father, Chief Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs to the Probate Registrar. It was registered in the Register at the Probate Registry as No. 3133.
4. On Friday, July 26, 2019, the alleged Last Will brought by Seinye Lulu-Briggs was read without notice to the three older sons, Senibo, Dumo and Sofiri.
5 This was done despite the fact that there were two other Wills of Late High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs at the Probate Registry: i) the Will deposited by Senibo, Dumo and Sofiri. ii) The Will lodged by Late High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs himself on the 19th of April 2002 and registered in the Register as No. 695 with Receipt No. 019187.
6. After the said reading of the documents brought by Seinye Lulu-Briggs, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs and his two brothers on the same Friday, July 26, 2019 through their Solicitors filed a CAVEAT at the Probate Registry and on July 31, 2019 filed Suit No. PHC/2520/2019 against Seinye Lulu-Briggs and 5 others, seeking to declare the said Testamentary Documents as null and void and to stop the grant of probate. The said Suit No. PHC/2520/2019 were served on the Probate Registrar, High Court of Rivers State on August 2, 2019.
7. Despite the Caveat and the pending Suit No. PHC/2520/2019, probate was granted on August 9, 2019 with respect to the alleged Will and 6 codicils lodged by his Seinye’s lawyer.
8. Seinye Lulu-Briggs’ application for Probate was granted, even though there was a pending caveat by the heirs of the late High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs.
9. Following this development, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs and his two brothers filed Suit No. PHC/2751/2019 against Seinye, the executors, probate registrar and others. The Suit seeks to set aside the probate granted.
10. Seinye Lulu-Briggs filed an objection with respect to PHC2751/2019 on ground that it was an abuse of court process because at the time of filing it, Suit No. PHC2520/2019 was pending.
11. Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs and his brothers filed a Notice of Discontinuance with respect to the said PHC/2520/2019 and filed a motion to amend Suit No. PHC/2751/2019 seeking to introduce among other things the fact that at the time probate was granted with respect to the Will lodged by the widow through her lawyer, the Probate Registrar was in custody of a Will lodged by the late Chief Lulu-Briggs himself.
12. It is instructive that at the time of filing Suit No. PHC2751/2019. Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs and his brothers did not know that their father, during his lifetime, had lodge a Will at the Probate Registry himself but became aware of this fact long after the filing of the suit; hence, the application to amend in order to properly put that fact before the court.
13. On Monday, December 14, 2020 Hon. Justice Nwogu of the High Court of Rivers State dismissed the application for amendment and also dismissed Suit No. PHC275/2019 on the ground that it’s an abuse of court process because the Notice of Discontinue file with respect to Suit No. PHC2520/2019 was incompetent as the permission of the court was not obtained before same was filed.
14. Justice Nwogu dismissed the application notwithstanding that the processes filed in the said suit were served on only 2 of the 6 defendants and none of the defendants entered an appearance or took any step whatsoever with respect to the suit.
15. The High Court Judge disregarded the critical information regarding a Last Will and Testament, which High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs himself had deposited and which may contain provisions that contradict the one Seinye had paraded as the Last Will and Testament.
16. By this ruling, the late High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs has been denied justice by the Port Harcourt High Court, because his real wishes contained in his proper Last Will and Testament have been ignored by the court.
17. However, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs cannot allow himself to be distracted from the immediate task of according his father the most befitting burial, considering that this ruling is by a court of first instance presided over by the well-known Justice Nwogu.
18. The heirs of the late High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs shall utilize all the legal opportunities at their disposal, while concentrating on the burial plans of their departed father and Paramount Head.