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The Coroner’s Inquest into the death of High Chief Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs, has concluded that the Nigerian billionaire did not die in Ghana after all.
“…the Deceased died in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and before his arrival in Accra, Ghana”, said Her Worship Mrs. Eleanor Kakra Barnes-Botchway, sitting at the Magistrate District Court ‘2’, Kaneshie, Accra.
The court in a ruling delivered on March 20, unearthed revealing details of the controversial and disputed death of High Chief Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs, and concluded with a recommendation to the “appropriate authorities in the Federal Republic of Nigeria in accordance with prevailing laws”, to probe into what killed the 88-year-old man on December 27, 2018.
Her recommendation for a probe into the death is founded on the basis that a Ghana Standards Authority Forensic Laboratory analysis of the liver of the deceased old man discovered Formalin, a chemical with the capacity to hinder the discovery of poisons or drugs in the body.
Said the Judge in her 5-page ruling: “While I consider the autopsy report as only evidential in the determination of the cause of death of the Deceased, I have made an observation which I believe will impact on the thoroughness of the autopsy report and the proper determination of the cause of death of the Deceased. My observation is that the autopsy report notes on page 5 under the heading “Ghana Standards Board Forensic Science Laboratory”, that “a sample of the liver sent was sent to the Ghana Standards Authority for toxicology (opiates, common poisons, drugs) but could only detect formalin (GSA-FM-T172-A) with a remark that the formalin screens out the common poisons and drugs if present and therefore cannot be detected”. I am concerned that, without a conclusive report on the presence/absence of toxins, poisons or drugs in the Deceased body, the determination of the cause of death of the Deceased will be premature and incomplete and therefore I recommend that the said samples of the liver and any other required body samples, be sent to a more clinically advanced laboratory, for conclusive biochemical and toxicological testing of the presence/ absence of toxins, poisons or drugs, before the cause of death can be determined with certainty.”
Time and place of death
The Judge was emphatic that Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs died long before arriving in Ghana, and that his death occurred in Nigeria.
“I have found that none of the documents made available to me, including the autopsy report sets out the actual time of the death of the Deceased, except that the statement of Dr. Asante-Bremang Moses and the Medical Cause of Death issued by Dr. Killian Boampong-Konam of Airport Clinic record that the Deceased was declared clinically dead at 6:57 pm on December 27th 2018.
“I have also read the Statement of one Haye Philemon, given to the Ghana Police, which is to the effect that at the time the Deceased was being taken out of the aircraft, his hand had dropped like he was lifeless and that he had become heavier than normal. It is instructive that the medical doctors unanimously agreed in their various Statements to the Ghana Police, that the Deceased was dead on arrival at the Airport Clinic and his body showed a “degree of stiffness”, which indicates that the process of “rigor mortis” had already set in with respect to the Deceased’s body. It is trite knowledge that the process of rigor mortis sets in between 2-4 hours after a person has died. From the Statements of the persons, who were on board the flight with the Deceased, given to the Ghana Police, one fact remains undisputed, which is that the Deceased was rushed to the Airport Clinic immediately upon arrival at the Kotoka International Airport after almost one (1) hour of flight time from Port Harcourt in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“I therefore conclude that the Deceased died at least 2 hours before he was taken to the Airport Clinic for examination by the medical doctors and considering the flying time between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republic of Ghana, it is my considered opinion, from the evidence available that the Deceased died before arrival in the Republic of Ghana and indeed, departure from the Federal Republic of Nigeria. From the available evidence therefore, I am led to conclude further that the Deceased died on or before 4:57pm on December 27th 2018.
“The place of the Deceased’s death
“From my conclusions reached under point 1, on the time of the Deceased’s death, I am undoubtedly led to the conclusion on the place of death of the Deceased, which is, that the Deceased died in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and before his arrival in Accra, Ghana.”
She declined jurisdiction in pronouncing on what killed High Chief Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs, given that she did not have conclusive evidence to do so, and also because the deceased died in Nigeria and out of the jurisdiction of the court.
For two years, the widow of the deceased, Mrs Seinye Lulu-Briggs, who traveled with the old man and has always insisted that he died a natural death, has been slugging it out with her elderly stepson who have insisted their father did not die a natural death and wanted the true circumstances established.
And after running battles over who has the right to keep custody of the body and to perform funeral and burial rites, the High Court in Accra ordered on the “23rd of December, 2019 that the mortal remains of the deceased, High Chief (Dr.) Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs should be released by the 4th defendant, Enterprise Funeral Services Ghana Limited and the Ghana Police Service to the family by custom, led by Chief Dumo Lulu- Briggs, to convey same to Nigeria for burial and the funeral rites.”
The body has since been flown to Nigeria, in accordance with the court orders.
Source: Daily Graphic | Ghana