Last Saturday, I was a guest at the Rhythm 93.7 Port Harcourt, and featured in a Saturday live program known as Viewpoint. I chose to make myself available for that program for two main reasons:
1. To set the records straight on issues concerning the position of my father’s mortal remains, the real reasons why he remains unburied as against all the spins and lies in circulation by my stepmother and her cohorts. 2. To appeal to Rivers people; everyone who loves my father to prevail on his wife to release the Mortal Remains of my father, High Chief Dr. O. B. Lulu-Briggs (OON) to his family for a befitting burial.
Contrary to the opinion ofbeing weak held by many who I understand feel very disgusted by this sacrilege and show of impudence by my stepmother, I am very strong and fully in charge of my emotions for the sake of keeping the legacies of my father and respecting every memory of him. I believe that my strength is made manifest in my utmost exercise of restraint at this trying time. I hope that my stepmother, Seinye Lulu-Briggs will for once listen to the voice of reason and release our father, your friend, your loving High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs for the last honour that he deserves. God keep us!
Widow of the founder of Moni Pulo Limited, High Chief Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs, Seinye has discredited statements made against her person by her stepson, Dumo Lulu-Briggs over the late Lulu-Briggs.
The widow in a statement she personally signed and made available to newsmen in reaction to Dumo’s interview on Rhythm FM in Port-Harcourt (Dated Saturday, 18th January 2020) chronicled several lies peddled by her stepson and targeted at maligning her person. Her words, “I was greatly dismayed as I listened to the lies and disinformation of my son Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs concerning the crisis he has created in our family including the non-burial of his father, High Chief Dr O. B. Lulu-Briggs, my beloved husband of blessed memory, on a radio station in Port Harcourt on Saturday, the 18th of January 2020. I also listened with the divine peace that our God Almighty gives, the reactions of people to his fabrications. Read the statement in full, “I was greatly dismayed as I listened to the lies and disinformation of my son Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs concerning the crisis he has created in our family including the non-burial of his father, High Chief Dr O. B. Lulu-Briggs, my beloved husband of blessed memory, on a radio station in Port Harcourt on Saturday, the 18th of January 2020. I also listened with the divine peace that our God Almighty gives, the reactions of people to his fabrications. “Ordinarily, having already reluctantly published facts earlier about the painful truth regarding the troubled relationship between my three older sons and the family as well as their father, I would have ignored Dumo’s lies. However, upon deep reflection, I have decided as a mark of respect to the memory of my dear late husband, the people of Rivers State and the entire nation, to debunk Dumo’s deception in order to provide clarity on most of the issues. “We are all sons and daughters of the Most High God, who Himself is the Truth. I, therefore, pray that the Holy Spirit will open our eyes and understanding to see and embrace the truth on this matter. I want peace and I stand for peace and equity/justice- ‘Paix Pacis et Aequitas’ – my husband’s motto- which sums up the philosophy by which he guided our family. “First, it is not true that I have custody of my husband’s body. If it were so, the December 23, 2019, Ghana court order that Dumo referred to would have directed me to release the body. Rather, it directs the Ghana Police and mortuary to release his body to the family by custom, led by Dumo Lulu-Briggs once the preconditions have been met. “It is also not true that Dumo and his brothers, Senibo and Sofiri, do not have or have been denied access to their father’s body. Soon after my husband passed into Glory at the Kotoka International Airport Clinic, Accra, Ghana on the 27th of December 2018, I notified Dumo and all our children. Dumo and his brothers arrived in Ghana the next evening. The following day, 29th of December, our family went to the mortuary to pay respects to our fallen patriarch. I introduced my older sons to the staff of Transitions Mortuary as my children and also those of the deceased and indicated that they could directly contact them and vice versa as needed. Indeed, on that basis, Dumo and his brothers visited the mortuary again without me and were granted access. Senibo and Dumo commissioned and have since taken to the funeral home, a tailor-made casket that will be used to convey my husband’s body back home to Nigeria for interment. Dumo has also been communicating with Transitions staff directly without the requirement of any form of permission from me. I wonder why he wants the world to believe otherwise. “I implore the persons who called into the radio program to ask why my late husband’s body was not given to his sons immediately he died, to kindly put themselves in my shoes at that moment. My husband died in a foreign country shortly after our arrival to begin our annual family vacation. Although we were immediately struck with grief, the first thing I did was to call my children Dumo and Solate to inform them of what had happened. Dumo refused to answer my calls to him. So, when my husband’s body was being taken to the mortuary, I asked my son Datiem, who travelled with us on the flight, to keep calling Dumo until he responded and to pass on the sad news. Dumo was eventually informed and he came to Ghana the next day. As a family, we all went to pay respects to our departed patriarch. Nobody has faulted the steps we took in depositing my husband’s body in, arguably, one of the best mortuaries in Africa. In fact it was Dumo, who was liaising with our larger family in Abonnema who informed us at a family meeting that our very own Oruwari Briggs War Canoe House Council of Chiefs said my husband’s body should be kept in Ghana until the burial arrangements had been made. According to him they said only God knew why he allowed him (their father) to pass away in Ghana and his body should be there until burial arrangements are concluded.
“At that time everything was okay, and we were one family united in grief planning to bury our patriarch until we all fixed the burial for the 26th of January 2019. During one of our family meetings, Dumo and Senibo asked for an inventory of their father’s assets. I informed them that I did not have such a list. Moreover, I said we do not need that to bury my husband. Their response was that because not all the children had money, it might be necessary to sell some of their father’s properties to raise money for the burial. I even proposed to give my personal funds to the children to enable them to participate as they wanted. Senibo, Dumo and Sofiri did not accept. All Dumo wanted was the inventory of my husband’s assets before proceeding with the burial. Senibo’s insistence eventually led to the cancellation of the first burial date. “When my late husband’s lawyer contacted all of us about reading his Will on the basis that my late husband made provisions for his burial in the Will, I accepted and expected all the children to do same because Senibo had clearly stated during one of our meetings that, “I am sure my father who knew I do not have funds, must have made provisions for his burial.” When Dumo realized that my late husband’s lawyers have filed his Last Will and Testament in the Rivers State Probate Registry, he went to the same Registry and deposited a photocopy of a purported Will allegedly given to him for safekeeping by his father in 2003. Dumo who today claims that he was against the reading of the Will is the same person who had wanted the assets to be handed over to him to administer and raise funds for the burial as though there was no Will. “ By this time Dumo had cancelled two other burial dates that our family had agreed on and became silent on issues relating to my late husband’s obsequies. I became very worried and called on Dumo’s pastor, Pastor David Ibiyeomie, to seek his intervention. He invited both of us to a meeting during which Dumo said that before my husband could be buried, I would have to give him what he considers his father’s key assets- Moni Pulo Limited (the oil company his father founded and served as Chairman/Chief Executive Officer until his passing), Sombreiro House (our matrimonial home), Rachel Hotel and O. B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation to enable him, “carry on his father’s legacy.” Dumo threatened to raise a murder inquiry into the cause of his father’s death if I don’t oblige him. His belief, which he stated, is that if the burial takes place, there will be nothing to use to bring me to the table. I was quite disappointed that Dumo was using my husband’s body as bait in an attempt to forcefully take over his father’s assets. It was before his pastor that Dumo said he would find the cause of his father’s death and must see it to the end before any burial. I advised Dumo to find out what kept his father alive and bless first God before embarking on a fruitless journey of murder enquiry. Dumo lied on radio when he said that I accused Pastor Ibiyeomie of bias and frustrated his reconciliation move. He also lied about not dragging the assets of my late husband while his body is still in the mortuary. “On April 10, 2019, Dumo made good on his threat and sent a petition to the Nigerian Police alleging that I killed my 88-year-old husband. It is rather unfortunate and painful that the same sons, who made several attempts during my husband’s lifetime to keep him miserable and also threatened his life unless they were settled, are now alleging a case of murder against me. Why? Because I stood firmly as one with my darling husband? Lovingly took care and spared nothing to ensure that he received the best round the clock medical care from the best doctors and nurses wherever available in England, Nigeria, United States of America, Lebanon and other countries? I leave this matter to the God of justice to plead my cause and avenge for me. “The investigation started by freezing ALL bank accounts linked to my BVN, including those of Moni Pulo Limited, Rachael Hotel Limited, and the O. B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation and requested for my bank statements. What was Dumo looking for? That not being enough, on the 3rd of June 2019, a team from Force CIID led by ACP Adaku Uche-Anya stormed Moni Pulo Limited’s Port Harcourt office. They sealed up the premises and utterly terrorized the staff into writing statements. I am still trying to understand how these actions relate to the investigation of an alleged murder case. “I was informed that the Nigerian Police CIID was looking for me, so I presented myself at Force Headquarters Abuja, and met with DIG Force CIID Anthony Ogbizi. I was shown Dumo’s petition titled, A Call to Investigate the Cause of the Death of High Chief (Dr.) O. B. Lulu-Briggs. As I recall, the petition contains a mere allegation of Dumo’s suspicion that my husband was murdered without any shred of evidence. On the face of the petition, Dumo did not rely on any medical report, nor complaints by the airport or any statutory authority in Nigeria or Ghana. Yet, I was grilled for over 5 hours. “After that session, ACP Adaku Uche-Anya, and her team visited Port Harcourt on June 12th, 2019. My daughter Solate, all my family, friends, and staff who were on the flight (and in Port Harcourt on that day), the management staff of Moni Pulo and I responded to their call to make ourselves available at the Port Harcourt Police Headquarters. We were kept in the Police custody, questioned vigorously, under caution as accused persons from 10 am to 11 pm. We were questioned on a wide range of issues including about insurance documents of all Moni Pulo Limited’s assets, our bank accounts, whether Solate was the biological daughter of my husband or not? How do these questions relate or contribute to proof in an alleged murder case? “As law-abiding citizens, we submitted to ACP Adaku Uche-Anya and her team, all my husband’s medical reports over the years, a report by his personal doctor in England, reports from Wellington Hospital London, proof of the reason for the chartered flight delay form Port Harcourt on the fateful day my husband passed, proof that my husband did not pass while en route to Ghana or prior, letter from VistaJet, operator of the chartered flight service we took directly to Accra from Port Harcourt on 27th of December 2018, testifying that my husband arrived in Ghana and alighted from the flight alive, Moni Pulo Limited’s assets insurance documents amongst others. Notwithstanding all the verifiable documents we provided as proof, the Nigerian Police treated me as a murder suspect, as if Dumo has discharged the burden of proof of murder and I was to then prove my innocence. The only evidence that Dumo presented to the Nigerian Police was his suspicion that I murdered my 88-year-old husband who I adored and cared for with all my heart for almost 20 years. “At Dumo’s instance, the Ghana Police and the Nigerian Police were going to perform an autopsy in the Police Hospital on July 12, 2019, without any of us (me and our four other children) being involved. I approached the High Court in Ghana to stop them and compel them to allow all of us (me and the four other children of my husband) to be part of the autopsy procedure. Through the court’s intervention, it was ordered that each party should have two pathologists to observe the autopsy at the 37 Military Hospital on their behalf. There were a total of six pathologists in the room (two performed the autopsy) and they confirmed there was nothing to show strangulation or murder as alleged in Dumo’s petition. In addition, two Investigating Police Officers ACP Adaku Uche-Anya and Justus Ogar from the Nigerian Police Force CIID Abuja represented the Nigeria Police. ACP Adaku Uche-Anya observed my husband’s nakedness and took pictures of his naked body as they tore his body apart. Neither she nor her colleague observed or expressed any anomaly in the procedure. This is how Dumo wanted his ‘beloved’ father to be treated. Is this not itself an abomination? Indeed, some mothers do have them. “Dumo was unhappy with the autopsy process because God, in accordance with His word, disappointed their devices. On the same day the autopsy was conducted, 19th of July 2019, he wrote to CP (Mrs.) Maame Yaa Tiwaa Addo-Danquah, the Director-General of Ghana Police CID rejecting the autopsy on the basis that he was not given tissue samples from his father’s body. The Ghana CID was in shock and so they invited all of us to a meeting to explain that the standard procedure was observed and to remind us that we were all fully represented and that all the Pathologists raised no objections about the autopsy procedure. Held on 22nd of July 2019 at 37 Military Hospital, Accra, the meeting was chaired by Brigadier General Ernest C. Saka, the DG Ghana Armed Forces Medical Service. Exasperated by Dumo’s insistence that there was a problem, the Chairman informed him that nothing had been done with the tissue samples taken from his father’s body and he could collect the same if he wished. Dumo declined. Instead, he insisted that nothing short of a second autopsy would satisfy him. He was informed that he would not be able to get any body tissue from a second autopsy. However, after being briefed by one of his pathologists, Dr. Francis Adedayo Faduyile, he agitated that they could cut my husband’s leg and bones to bring out his bone marrow for further tests. This is horrible but when I remember what Dumo did to his father between 2001 and 2004, I could only assume that he wanted to further punish his father in death by ensuring his remains are cut into pieces like that of an animal.
“While Dumo was fighting the autopsy that was instigated by his petition to the Nigerian Police from the day it was performed, he also went back to the Coroner and made an ex parte application for an inquest into his father’s passing in Ghana. Such an inquest would, of course, include another autopsy. It was granted on September 6, 2019.
“My people, can’t you see that the Coroner was deceived by Dumo’s false misrepresentations to her? If the issue was the delay of the autopsy report, why didn’t the Coroner, being the same court that ordered the first autopsy, issue an order to the Military Hospital to submit the autopsy report to her? She rather ordered for an inquest, which would entail a second autopsy. This got all of us worried and it is the reason we went to the High court to seek that the Military be ordered to submit the autopsy report in a transparent manner. More so, it is not true as Dumo said that the High Court cannot ask the Military Hospital questions on the report during the submission. Dumo was economical with the truth when he said such examination and cross-examination can only be done at the Coroner’s court. The Coroner’s Court is a lower court and only a court of first instance. It is not the Supreme Court whose actions are not appealable.
“In the same way that Dumo opposed the autopsy carried out on his father, he instructed his lawyers to file a suit barring the filing of the report of the same autopsy on the 27th of December 2019, the first anniversary of his father’s passing into glory. At the same time, he was perfecting plans to take my husband’s body to Nigeria where he can conduct his own autopsy and prosecute me for the murder of my husband. Sadly, Dumo is using the institution of law to brazenly mete out his wickedness on me. The good news is that “if God be for me, who can be against me?” God is with and for me and so I will not be swallowed by the wickedness of men.
“The Nigerian Police knows that I did not kill my husband. They have evidence that shows that we had planned to travel to Ghana on the 26th of December 2018 after departing the annual Oruwari Briggs Thanksgiving, which my husband, as Paramount Head of the Oruwari Briggs War Canoe House presided over at our family compound in Abonnema. An email trail stating that VistaJet had a technical problem confirmed our rescheduled flight for the next day 27th of December 2018. Eyewitnesses would testify that when we arrived back at Sombreiro House from Abonnema on the 26th of December 2018, my husband was upset because we had planned to go straight to the airport. As a matter of fact, he refused to alight from the car until I pleaded with him for several minutes. Accordingly, we got to the airport the next day and boarded the flight as usual. It was only after I inquired what was holding us down that I was told that VistaJet had not yet received a new landing permit for the rescheduled flight. The processing of another landing permit for Accra took time because it was a festive period and most workers were not at work. Ordinarily, it is not the passenger’s duty to secure landing permits. I took the initiative to help expedite the process. The Nigerian Police has all the papers/documents including a letter from VistaJet detailing all of the actions that were taken to secure the landing rights. The engines were running, and the aircraft was air-conditioned and very comfortable. My husband never felt uncomfortable, as there was no difference in the plane’s condition from when it was flying. The delay was not up to 5 hours as alleged by Dumo. Indeed, my husband took me to Singapore to celebrate my 60th birthday with friends and family just a couple of months before his demise. The flight time was over 22 hours each way via a chartered flight operated by the same private jet company. My husband was very okay. Furthermore, the pathologists confirmed that if my husband died a violent death of suffocation or strangulation, it would have physically been observed the moment his body was torn apart.
“Dumo said that my husband required suctioning every hour. This is wrong information and it typically demonstrates how ignorant he was and still remains about the status of his father’s health, medication, and welfare. Please ask Dumo if he knows the food his father ate, how he ate it or if he was aware of the medication his father was prescribed. Dumo would come around only during family occasions to snap pictures with my husband and the family. As a matter of fact, I am the one that would call him to come for such events. In 2017, while I was laying on the floor keeping vigil at Wellington Hospital London, praying for my husband’s recovery after doctors and men had given up on his ability to recover, I called Dumo to inform him that his father was ill and that he should come and visit with him. He came and was busy taking photographs with a very sick man. It did not make sense to me then but now I have understood why he was taking those pictures. He is carrying a photo album everywhere to prove his love for his father and his father’s love for him. Where things are normal and truthful, a child would not need to rely on pictures to prove close and good relationship with his father. Such memories and thoughts are carried in one’s heart and there is no need for explanations.
“When the autopsy exonerated and vindicated me based on the preliminary reports of participating pathologists, Dumo resorted to charges of smuggling of dead body against me in Ghana as always without any shred of evidence. All his allegations against me are malicious and based on mere suspicion. He persuaded the Ghana and Nigerian Police to investigate me for smuggling a dead body into Ghana. The Police interrogated the Ghana airport staff, airport clinic doctors and other persons in this regard. While Dumo is still pursuing this case, he has come to the public to pretend that the only issue is the release of the body of my husband for burial. He is a pathological liar. Dumo has no plans to bury my husband, his father. I may not be a politician like Dumo. I may not have the connections, oratorical skills and guts he has to intimidate, deceive and hurt but I am a bonafide daughter of the King of all kings, who rules over the affairs of men and because my trust is in Him alone, I am convinced that He will not allow Dumo and his cohorts to triumph over me.
“Dumo also lied when he said I accused His Excellency, Chief Nyesom Wike, the Executive Governor of Rivers State of bias. I thought Dumo would provide some more information about our meetings with our Governor. But of course, he cannot because he has already lied that he has never talked about his father’s assets. However, Dumo made it clear to the Governor that he wants me to hand over my husband’s assets to him. The meetings were about what I can give Dumo. At the first meeting, in the presence of His Excellency, Dumo asked for 50% of Moni Pulo Limited. I repeated that I could not negotiate my husband’s assets with him- I am not holding them. However, I offered 50% of my shares in Moni Pulo Limited to all my children, including Dumo and his siblings. Dumo is not the only offspring we have and cannot have it all to himself. Dumo rejected the offer. Instead, he made a proposal asking that all that belonged to my husband, Moni Pulo Limited, landed properties, including gifts that my husband transferred to his other children and me over 15 years ago, my personal assets/companies, as well as my husband’s personal effects be returned to my husband’s estate and handed over to him, Dumo, to re-administer and allocate as may be applicable, thereby discarding my husband’s Will and wishes and erasing any evidence that my husband ever lived. This is Dumo’s condition for the burial of his ‘beloved’ father whom he ‘greatly respects’. If not in Dumo’s heart, my husband, the High Chief Dr. O. B. is very much alive in my heart.
“My husband’s Last Will and Testament are in the public domain for all to see. My husband handed over all his properties to a Trust Company in September 2013. The Letter of Wishes of that Trust is to take care of the education of his younger children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and future generations to the level they desire. This includes our grandchildren from Senibo, Dumo and Sofiri. My husband’s properties and assets are therefore not mine to share to Dumo. Dumo’s son is the only person he gifted property. I was not given any property except the house I live in which I built with my husband. This was the explanation I respectfully made to my Governor, His Excellency.
“It is painful and disheartening that while some people are concerned about what Dumo and his brothers can get from my husband’s assets, they are not concerned about the murder charge hanging on my head. This is the reason they will discuss assets and release of body and consciously ignore the murder charge against me. Is it that they do not care whether I live or die provided Dumo takes over his father’s assets that his father in his wisdom allocated to his grandchildren and future generations?
“Dumo directly abused and insulted me at our last meeting with the Executive Governor of Rivers State and over 15 other persons present (including Executives of the Rivers State Government and foreign lawyers). He made it clear that he will only permit me to live in the house my husband gave me as long as I remain unmarried, insinuating in a very derogatory manner that I plan to marry another man at my age due to my physical looks. They all had fun laughing over this. I kept calm with tears rolling down my cheeks. What has Dumo not done to me? What??
“I heard Dumo say that my husband was looking sick on the 26th December 2018 and I did not inform him that I “…was taking him to Ghana”. This is an insult to my husband because neither of us was a minor nor was Dumo our guardian to seek permission from him before travelling. My husband has been taking me on trips for over 20 years; especially for New Year celebrations and we have never on any occasion pre-informed Dumo or any of his grown-up siblings of our travel plans. The trip of 27th December was one of those trips. My husband was very okay on the 26th of December and personally oversaw the giving out of his cash and other gifts to the Chiefs and guests present, unlike his usual approach of giving one person the responsibility to do so on his behalf. He also insisted on staying till the end of the event. All of this transpired after Dumo had left Abonnema. Dumo knows that he has never really cared about my husband to observe whether he was well or not or to check in on him routinely. He now wants the world to believe otherwise. Why?
“Dumo also lied about not having access to Sombreiro House. Dumo has visited me many times at Sombreiro House after our initial meeting with the Governor in August. Prior to that, immediately following our patriarch’s demise, our meetings on the burial of my husband were held at Sombreiro House and Dumo and all his siblings were there. There was no time they were denied access. No one should be deceived by Dumo’s antics. Our God is not mocked. Every hidden thing shall be brought to light in due time that the world may see and appreciate light as opposed to darkness.
“Some of you say I have committed abomination by making myself the Chief Mourner instead of Dumo. This is based on the lies Dumo tells you. I am happy that you all heard him read out the text message I sent to the secretary of our family, insisting that he as a chief in the house be allowed to convene and preside over the meetings on burial. Does this support Dumo’s allegation of me trying to be Chief Mourner? As a matter of fact, the High Chief said in his Will that he didn’t want anyone to mourn or weep his passing. In spite of this, Dumo continues to live in disobedience. What I want is for my husband to be buried in line with his last wishes.
“I heard Dumo’s half-truth about how I appealed against the release of my husband’s body the next day after the court order. Dumo consciously failed to inform you that immediately the order was given, he and his co-travellers ran to the mortuary same day to procure the release of my husband’s body to him without notifying his other siblings and without fulfilling the preconditions stated in the Order. He did not notify me. He also lied to the Mortuary that he came with my representatives as stated in the court order, whereas I had no clue of what was going on and didn’t know who he went with as my representatives. When our attention was drawn to this, we were left with no other choice but to appeal against the release of the body to prevent Dumo from taking the body without fulfilling the pre-conditions in the Court Order and conducting another autopsy without my representation.
“Dumo also consciously hid from you, the fact that he appealed against the same court order that directed the Military to release the autopsy report. On the basis of his appeal, the autopsy report has not been released.
“The reason behind Dumo’s appeal against the release of the autopsy report is to enable him take custody of the body, bring it to Nigeria, carry out another autopsy and come up with a ‘result’ that indicts me of killing my husband. They will find it easier if there is no valid neutral autopsy report (like the one done by the Ghanaian Military) to benchmark on or challenge their report.
“I, therefore, with all humility and sincerity appeal to you all, people of good conscience, to persuade Dumo Lulu-Briggs to desist from persecuting, intimidating, framing up and making attempts to ruin and kill the innocent widow of the Late High Chief Dr O. B. Lulu-Briggs, the same man he claims to love. Dumo should please allow the autopsy report to be released. The Bible is very clear in several passages on how God takes matters concerning widows and the consequences of same.
“Finally, it is interesting to note that one of the reasons Dumo stated in his petition to the Nigerian Police as why he believes I killed my husband was that I was hasty and pressed for his burial before the elections commence. This world is full of ironies as the same Dumo is now accusing me of delaying the burial. Please, what exactly would Dumo have me do? Obviously, Dumo can only be satisfied and stop when he sees me dead but it will never happen in Jesus Christ Name Amen. I am a child of God, whose life is buried in Christ Jesus. Dumo will have to destroy Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and the Almighty God before he can destroy me and it is impossible.
“I thank you all for your patience and understanding, most especially those who continue to stand by the family of the High Chief Dr. O.B. Lulu-Briggs, sending us prayers and wishes, calling and stopping by to check on us. May God Almighty bless you. I know that at His appointed time my beloved husband will be accorded a distinguished burial. Thank you.”
As he hits the golden jubilee milestone (on January 21), I couldn’t think of a better depiction of that biblical line, “a friend that sticks closer than a brother”.
Sure, the story of his extraordinary climb from the bottom to the zenith of his chosen career – law – is now public knowledge. Without the proverbial silver spoon, without a godfather, Festus pulled himself uphill, earning the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) on account of winning a number of landmark cases that have undoubtedly extended the frontiers of jurisprudence in Nigeria.
I was there when Festus started from Gani Fawehinmi’s Chambers about three decades ago. Back then, we would play boys’ pranks in his one-room apartment a stone’s throw away from the work-place on weekends. I was there at the founding of National Conscience Party (NCP). I was there when Festus decided it was time to take a deep plunge into the world of uncertainty and left Gani at a tender age.
I was there when he took a leap of faith in 1995 by opening his own chambers in Anthony, Lagos. I was there as he started from the scratch. I witnessed him build, block by block, an enviable name through sheer hard-work, doggedness, fidelity to progressive values and fierce commitment to the pan-Nigerian cause.
I was there through all his struggles for a better society, from military regimes to civilian governments; all the arrests, detentions, charges, trials and acquittals. All those periods, surely and steadily, Festus etched his way into the consciousness of Nigerians.
Overall, what easily marks him out in the crowd is the courage he summons in the defense or propagation of his convictions.
But professional life aside, one domain many may not yet be too acquainted about Festus is his character as a person. Beyond the public perception of a serious and difficult character, privately Festus likes to laugh, play and joke. He loves comedy. He doesn’t take himself so seriously as others do. He is perhaps, the thickest skin I have ever seen – once he is set on his course, nothing you throw at him bothers him or distracts him.
We have been friends for almost three decades. With Festus in your corner, I can attest that you don’t need any army, even under fire. He is a true friend in all weather – fair or foul. He was the best-man at my wedding (the second being Segun Adeniyi). He has acted the part all through the years.
Over the last two decades, I have had my own fair share of court cases – whether professional or personal. Out of instinctive solidarity, Festus has handled all my cases free of charge, and won almost all.
Indeed, he embodies loyalty in the true sense of the word. In all our years of intimate friendship, I can’t remember us ever quarreling, not even once. This is because Festus is never pretentious and is a true “Afenifere” at heart, never forgetting the son of who he is. On completion of his first mansion (Noah’s Ark) in Lagos some two decades ago, a room was allocated to me symbolically. When I built mine few years later, he was the coordinator at the house-warming.
On the occasion of his golden jubilee, I know Festus’ sun is only just rising in the service of our fatherland. I wish him longevity, more wisdom, prosperity and robust health.
It is not every day you meet a young female Engineer and academician who has empowered over ten thousand women as well as have over five hundred undergraduates call her mummy because she pays their school fees. But that is the life of Engineer Funmilayo Adekojo Waheed the lady behind Funmilayo Ayinke Humanity Foundation.
For someone who spends hundreds of millions to help people every year, it is curious there are no airs around her, she is as natural as they come, warm and unassuming. To her, ‘money is good, but useless when you don’t use it to add value to people’s lives’.
Having spent childhood and early adulthood in great depravity, it is easy for her to relate with the poor and needy, especially widows and children of widows and single parents. These are the people she set out to help. We met the enterprising engineer at her Abuja office a few days ago to find out why she is spending so much on humanity and how she is going about the NGO that is gradually becoming talk of the town in Ogun State and among students all over the country. Excerpts
At what point did you start helping people, devoting resources to the needy?
I won’t deceive you, it has been long. Even as an undergraduate when I didn’t have, and I had to struggle to pay fees, I was always doing something. I recall one instance, while I was at LAUTECH, struggling to pay school fees, there was this woman whose daughter dropped out school because of 1,000 Naira. I paid the money and friends were looking at me and saying, ‘you sef’, na wa o, you cannot pay your fees yet you are taking care of someone else’s child. That was me. I recall another instance, I had this friend, whose room was opposite mine. I had paid school fees and it was few days to examination. She approached me, and said, Funmi, there is trouble, exams are here and I am yet to pay school fees. I had money, at least enough to feed myself for the remaining days in school. Well, it so happened that that same amount was also enough to pay her school fees. Of course, we paid the fees and had to live on garri all through the examination. We did it with joy. That was the type of life that I lived when I was in school. So after school, you could have imagined what I felt like when I had more than enough to help others.
So what really attracts you to helping people?
It is a passion. I love my job as an Engineer, a female Engineer at that, but I am beginning to take so much joy in the passion for helping for others, especially when you see people appreciate what you have done, old people, young people, people you never knew before, whose life you turn around by giving so little.
Does this have to do with your growing up?
[Countenance changes] Hmmmmm. I was raised by a single mother. We were raised by our mother. We lost our father at a tender age and our mother was a teacher. So you can only imagine what it felt like raising three children. I had to drop out of medical school because we could not afford the money to buy books and other things we needed. I lost two years in the process. Taking that decision was not easy for me and my mother. The day I informed my mother, I cried and cried. She also wept. But I made up my mind that I would do my best and ensure that even as a professional Engineer, I was successful. I also decided, deep within me that as long as live I will help others and ensure that no child has to go through what I went through because of their poor background.
With all the Courses you had taken in Medicine and Surgery, how was the transition to now read Engineering.
Hmmmm. You can ask that question again. It was never easy. But God gave me a guardian angel who saw me through. My knowledge of Mathematical Engineering was down since I was no longer taking courses in Mathematics as a Medical student, but he directed me to lecturers who helped me. I ended up coming out with a 2:1 in Mechanical Engineering. My guardian angel then ended up as my husband. Believe me, he was God sent and I cannot but tell you, if not for him, I wonder how I would have ended up. He has been my pillar of support in everything. He has been there for me every step of the way. In everything I do I see him as the God-sent hand, lifting me up and guiding me.
So how much have you expended on Funmilayo Ayinke Humanity Foundation since inception?
It is difficult for me to estimate. But I think it will be close to half a billion Naira. You can see how we operate. We don’t limit ourselves to once- in -a -year activities or school period activities. A lady needed baby things, she contacted me, I verified the need and send 150k to her, she sent the proof of receipt to our Whatsapp group page, everyone’s happy, life goes on. Others have special needs, they raise them and we take care of the needs. These are apart from school fees; things you need in school. Don’t forget, the people I am talking about here are children of single parents or widows who cannot afford to make ends meet. The tears of joy in their faces, the way they express themselves inspire me to do more. Only last December we were able to touch the lives of widows again in Abeokuta, Ogun State. We gave many grinding machines, other things to empower them and for some who needed cash, we also provided cash. We ended up giving everyone cash, one way or the other, bags of rice were also shared We touched over four thousand lives. Yearly we do this. Many still continued to come after what we did at the palace of Olowu of Owu in Ogun State and we have been helping them. We will continue to.
We started out never really caring about how many people we touched their lives, believe me we have done so much for many. If we did four thousand last December, imagine what we have done years before. The pictures and videos are there.
Have you been challenged by people about having political ambitions and maybe this is why you are doing all these?
Yea, I had a situation last December in which some women came to me that I should go and contest, and that they are ready, or bring someone out they will support. I laughed it off. That has never crossed my mind. I am not from Ogun and the large chunk of beneficiaries, the widows are from Ogun so there is no way I can set out to woo them for votes. I am just doing what God has put in my heart.
Given this large bill, how do you finance the giving you have been doing?
It’s God’s doing. Don’t forget I am an Engineer apart from being an academic, so nearly everything that comes in from our jobs are channeled into the philanthropic activities.
How does it feel, a female Mechanical Engineer, in man’s world. Do they discriminate against the female Engineers as we hear in some other professions?
No, not at all. They rather encourage us, they see us as their little sisters, the men in Engineering are so helpful. They are willing to help at any point in time. That’s why you see women aspiring to positions of leadership in COREN and others. They want the women to step out and lead while they stay at the background. The Engineering men are quite supportive. They are always there for us. I can boldly say that.
History will forever be kind to her husband, General Abdusalam Abubakar RTD, after he successfully handed over power to civilian rule marking the end of military rule and transition to Civilian rule in 1999.
During Justice Fati Lami Abubakar’s reign as First Lady of Nigeria, the trained lawyer, founded the Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative in 1999, which focuses on upholding and fighting for women’s human rights.
Apart from being a firstlady of Nigeria from June 1998- May 1999, her resume is quite an intimidating one. The law graduate from Obafemi Awolowo University, began her career in law as an inspector and senior counsel in Nigeria.
At a point in her blooming career, she was named the solicitor general of the Niger State Ministry of Justice in 1985 and a judge for the High Court in 1989.
In March 2013, The Chief Servant of Niger State Babangida Aliyu appointed her the Chief Judge of Niger State until she retired in retirement in April 2016.
Intrestingly, one of her daughters Dr. Amina Bello is the current first lady of Niger state married the the current Governor Mallam Abubakar Sani Bello.
For her continuous advocacy on human and child rights, prison decongestion, orphanage and general care of the vulnerable in the society among other achievements alongside her dedication in the service to Niger state, Nigeria and humanity as a whole the former Chief Judge of Niger State, was confered with the Sir Ahmadu Bello Honours Award by the Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation (SABMF) on its 6th Annual Lecture held at the Foundation Headquater in Kaduna on Monday the 20th of January 2020.
Queen of Soul and international music star, Bukola Elemide, popularly known as Asa has revealed how she was once duped by Yahoo boys. Speaking in a recent interview with Cool FM’s program #TheRoadShow, she claimed that the Yahoo boys made a mess of her by emptying her bank account. She said “Yahoo Boys emptied my bank account, but we won’t go into that,” Asa has also identified with Naira Marley’s movement and she is no ashamed of being called a Marlian. “I think I’m a Marlian. I love him, I think he is awesome,” she declared. She further said she will vote for him if he ran for any Governorship election. The Nigerian-French singer also disclosed that she had a rap career (or not) before the jazz and guitar but called it quits because she wasn’t good enough.
Asa is currently promoting ‘Lucid’, her latest work which is a follow-up to ‘Bed of Stone’ which was released in 2014. Early this year, she released two singles, ‘The Beginning,’ and ‘Good Thing.’ She released ‘Beautiful Imperfection’ in collaboration with a French composer, Nicolas Mollard.
Asa has won the prestigious French Constant in Award in 2008 after the release of several albums, including, “Asa’’, which charted radios across Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Her music influence grew from her father’s music collection built up for his work as a cinematographer, with records featuring American, Nigerian and African soul classics such as Mavin Gaye, Fela Kuti, Bob Marley, Sunny Ade, Diana Ross, Miriam Makeba.
Meanwhile, controversial hip hop artist, Azeez Fashola, popularly known as Naira Marley, on Wednesday, cautioned his fans, whom he calls ‘Marlians’, against destroying their future.
The Oyo State Police Command on Thursday confirmed the murder of popular traditional medical expert Alh. Fatai Yusuf (Aka Oko Oloyun).
Yusuf was killed by unknown gunmen along Igbo-Ora-Eruwa Road. Confirming the sad incident, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Mr Gbenga Fadeyi, told The Nation that Yusuf was killed around 4:30 pm on the road while traveling to Iseyin, Oyo State.Fadeyi, a Superintendent of Police (SP), said the Commissioner of Police Mr Shina Olukolu has visited the site of the incident along with some deputy commissioners for an on-the-spot fact-finding mission.The PPRO said Olukolu has directed a high-powered manhunt for the hoodlums that perpetrated the dastardly act with a view to bringing them to justice.Yusuf, who until his death was the President of the Physiotherapists’ Association of Nigeria.The Nation learnt that his assailant trailed him from Lagos till the point where he was murdered.Yusuf, it was also learnt, always opted for that route to escape insecurity on the major roads.
Access Bank and its Group Managing Director, Herbert Wigwe, were honoured as the ‘Bank of the Decade’ and ‘Banker of the Decade’ respectively by THISDAY Newspaper at its 25th anniversary celebration held at the Eko Convention Centre, Lagos. The silver jubilee celebration, was witnessed by dignitaries including former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Emeka Anyaoku; Afenifere chieftain, Ayo Adebanjo; founder of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote; Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari; and former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi. Receiving the awards, Wigwe attributed his success to the collective effort of all employees of the Bank and customers, saying, “It is such an honour to be recognized by such a prestigious platform, renowned for its work in unbiased and qualitative reportage. This award is dedicated to all members of staff who have worked tirelessly to ensure the growth and success of the Bank and all its subsidiaries. Furthermore, we thank all 32 million of our customers who trust us as we continue our journey to being Africa’s gateway to the world”. Over the past decade, Herbert Wigwe has overseen the growth of Access Bank, from a relatively small bank into Africa’s largest retail bank. Wigwe has closed a series of strategic high-profile mergers, while pushing and driving participation in community-focused initiatives that have endeared the bank to its customers. Since the completion of its merger with Diamond Bank, Access Bank’s customer base has grown from about 13 million to 32 million. With subsidiaries and rep offices in 13 countries – Ghana, United Kingdom, UAE, China, Lebanon, India, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Rwanda, Zambia, Congo, Cameroon and most recently Kenya – Access Bank continues to defy critics, strengthening its place as a powerhouse in the Nigerian and indeed African banking industry.
International screen diva, Priyanka Chopra attended the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum yesterday and took to social media to share a few moments from the event. Being the Global Citizen ambassador, she was there to address the world leaders about critical issues like extreme poverty, climate change and inequity.
One of the pictures she shared was a picture with Nigeria’s former minister of finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who is the board chairperson at Gavi, a public–private global health partnership committed to increasing access to immunisation in poor countries. She wrote, ‘Dr. Ngozi on behalf of Gavi has vaccinated 86% of the world’s children and has saved over 13 million lives since 2000. She is truly doing God’s work. Dr. Ngozi is an economist, international development expert and the Chair of @gavialliance – an incredible organization that has helped immunize more than 760 million children and saved 13 million lives. The proof is in the numbers, and it”s evident that with organizations like Gavi and its amazing partners like @unicef and @who, we can eradicate extreme poverty. #Davos2020”
Reportedly, Priyanka also took part in the fireside chat with the likes of Belgium’s Deputy PM Alexander DeCroo, South African disability activist Eddie Ndopo, P&G’s Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard, Chair of the Board of Gavi Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chief Strategy Officer of Verizon Rima Qureshi, Kenyan food and nutrition activist, Wawira Njiru, Teneo CEO Declan Kelly, and Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans.
A former commissioner for women affairs in Delta State, Queen Betty Efekodha has raised an alarm over the plan to convert the Maryam Babaginda Women Development Center that was built during the tenure of former governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of the state to Appeal Court premises.
According to Efekodha, the building has been roofed and painted, while what remained is for it to be furnished.
“I have been looking forward to the day it will be commissioned by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of the state.
“This would have gone a long way in improving the lot of women all round as the edifice housed a very big hall plus smaller adjoining halls and different offices for meetings, trainings, seminars, hall of fame and skills acquisitions,” she said.
The former commissioner said in a statement she wrote on the issue that the centre also plays host to national and international women programs and events.
She added that the importance of the women center could not be over emphasized.
“More so, it was named after an illustrious daughter of Delta State, who made women to be seen and also heard through her Better Life Programme.
“It is definitely a big plus to women development. I have deliberately brought it to this platform so that we women of Delta State can appeal to the governor to let our centre be.
“In as much as the Court of Appeal is necessary and I appreciate the Governor for it, robbing Peter to pay Paul is not the best.
“I therefore appeal to my National President and State Chairman to please look into it. If possible, a delegation can see our Governor,” she said.