O. B. Lulu-Briggs Estate: Solicitors Tackle Dumo Lulu-Briggs, Others On False Claims

Solicitors to the estate of late High Chief Dr. O. B. Lulu-Briggs, Charles Anthony LLP, have responded to claims made in the media by three out of seven of the late oil mogul’s children on their dispute with his last Will and Testament.

The Press statement signed by Ms. Paschalyne Ijeoma Ibe, the firm’s Practice Manager and dated 21 December 2020 reads:

“The attention of our firm has been brought to a fallacious press statement dated 15 December 2020, issued by a Sotonye Ijuye-Dagogo ostensibly acting on behalf of Messrs Senibo, Dumo and Sofiri Lulu- Briggs, the eldest sons of the late billionaire oil magnate and businessman, High Chief Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs, who passed away in Accra, Ghana on 27 December 2018 and is yet to be buried. The said press statement alleges that Mr Charles Adeogun-Phillips, the founding partner of our firm, acting in concert with Dr (Mrs) Seinye Lulu-Briggs, delivered “documents alleged to be the Last Will and Testament of Chief Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs and six (6) codicils…” at the Probate Registry of the High Court of Rivers State”

“Contrary to the false allegation contained in the said press statement, namely that Mr Charles Adeogun – Phillips lodged a Will at the Probate Registry of the High Court of Rivers State in his capacity as Solicitor to Dr. (Mrs) Seinye Lulu-Briggs (wife of the Late High Chief), the said Will and the six Codicils thereto were lodged by him in his capacity as Solicitor to the Estate of Late High Chief Lulu- Briggs, and the circumstances of his appointment in that regard are well-established and documented.

“It is an openly verifiable fact that Mr Adeogun-Phillips was appointed as UK solicitor to the Late High Chief, having been recommended by Mr Ian Stowe, who, having previously served as lead solicitor to the Late High Chief for over three decades, was retiring from active practice. It is also well established that based on the cross-border nature of our firm’s practice, coupled with Mr Adeogun-Phillips’ dual qualifications and practice as Solicitor of the Superior Courts of England and Wales and Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, he was deemed as ably qualified to succeed Mr Stowe.

“Having been appropriately instructed by Mr Stowe to take all legal steps for the purpose of implementing the wishes of the Late High Chief in the said testamentary documents, our firm obtained an Order of the High Court of Rivers State to deliver the last Will and Testament of the Late High Chief dated 27 February 2004 and the six Codicils thereto (separately executed by him on 5 July 2007, 3 March 2009, 31 August 2011, 16 January 2013, 5 June 2013 and 27 October 2014) to the Registrar of the Probate Registry of the said Court.

“Pursuant to the funerary instructions in the testamentary documents for the family of the Late High Chief, our firm invited Messrs Senibo, Dumo and Sofiri Lulu-Briggs to the reading of the said documents, notwithstanding that the trio were expressly excluded by the late High Chief therefrom, as was reiterated by him, in a separate 33-page statement (referred to in the testamentary documents as “side letter”) authored and executed by the Late High Chief, wherein he explained the reasons thereof.

“After considerable efforts by the trio to frustrate the initial reading of the testamentary documents, in the absence of any valid restraining order, the said documents were eventually read on 26 July 2019.

“It should be further emphasised that the said testamentary documents and the “side letter” referred to therein were witnessed by Scrivener Notaries in London, following which, notarial certificates were issued, and copies retained thereof. In addition, the Will and each subsequent codicil executed thereof, carried with them, medical attestations by the Late High Chief’s personal UK physician of 30 (thirty) years, attesting to his mental capacity on each occasion.

“An examination of the said testamentary documents, which are now public records, will reveal that, majority of the assets of the Late High Chief were gifted inter vivos during his life and/or transferred to an irrevocable offshore trust, established in the Cayman Islands and managed by a foreign trust corporation in an offshore jurisdiction. The practical effect of the Trust was that, as the sole Settlor of the said Trust, the Late High Chief in effect relinquished any control he previously had over the ownership of the assets held therein. Consequently, such assets are excluded from his Estate. It is instructive to note that the establishment of the offshore trust structure, which Charles Adeogun-Phillips presently exercises oversight on behalf of its beneficiaries, in fact predates his appointment as solicitor to the Estate of the late High Chief.

“Save for his principal residence in Port Harcourt where he resided up until his demise, most of the Late High Chief’s domestic real estate had been transferred to and were the subject of the “Ebuye Trust” established to cater, among other things, for the altruistic work of the O. B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation.

“None of the trust instruments settled by the Late High Chief during his lifetime, contain the names of Messrs Senibo, Dumo and Sofiri Lulu-Briggs as beneficiaries. In that regard, the Late High Chief unequivocally outlined in the said Testamentary documents that he paid sums totalling $8 million jointly and severally to the trio on 1st April 2003 and 13 May 2004, and he considered the said sum, as a “reasonable and sufficient financial provision” for his eldest sons.

“It is important to emphasise that the documents evidencing the two settlements referred to above, were notarised by the same Scrivener Notaries in London who, on 27 February 2004, notarised the said testamentary documents which are now being challenged by the trio. In contrast, Dr (Mrs) Seinye Lulu- Briggs’ only inheritance from her late husband’s estate, consists of the property in Port Harcourt in which she and late husband resided, the vehicles he owned and his personal effects.

“It is therefore disingenuous and in utmost bad faith that the trio of Messrs Senibo, Dumo and Sofiri Lulu-Briggs, for whom the said Sotonye Ijuye-Dagogo was ostensibly acting, employed innuendos in the said press statement to allege a collusion between the founding partner of our firm, Mr Adeogun- Phillips and Dr (Mrs) Seinye Lulu-Briggs to deprive them of benefit under the estate of the Late High Chief, when, inarguably a majority of his assets had either been gifted during his lifetime or transferred to an offshore trust.”

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