In the early hours of Wednesday, the 6th day of february, 2008, gunmen numbering over forty stormed the home of renowned Ijaw oil tycoon and philantropist, Mr. Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs. Mr. Lulu-Briggs is the executive Chairman of Moni Pulo Ltd, a blue chip oil firm and the founder of O.B Lulu-Briggs Foundation.
In a commando style operation that lasted for over one hour,the gunmen took away Mr. Lulu-Briggs' wife, Mrs. Seinye Lulu-Briggs. The woman was however,released two days later, after an unsucessful attempt to extort a hefty ransom from her husband.
What the Lulu-Briggs household passed through on that fateful day according to reports, was what no normal person will wish his/her worst enemy.
We sympathise with the family on their ordeal and also congratulate them on the safe return of their matriach. We wish them God's continued guidance.
We will however, not close our eyes to some salient points which this ugly incident threw up.
One of these points is the fact that at the beginning of the operation, security agencies, particularly the police were alerted, but none of the numerous security outfits in Portharcourt could make it to the Lulu-Briggs compound while the operation lasted. This can either be seen as complicity or gross incompetence,which either way should necesitate a probe.
The second point is the porous nature of the Niger Delta struggle. It is on record that there is a peace parley between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Ijaw leaders which has resulted into a ceasefire even if informally. It is also on record that the umbrella body to which militants in the region purportedly belonged to, the JOINT REVOLUTIONARY COUNCIL(JRC) had condemned the incident and had blamed it on a renegade group member of the council. These to our opinion means that the struggle, hitherto unknown to the leadership has been infiltrated by criminals, who now hide inside the stuggle to carry out criminal acts. In this vein, we are of the opinion that all geniune Niger Delta region activists should go back to the drawing board with a view to sanitising and restoring credibility to the struggle.
The last but not the least point is the influence of Mr. O.B Lulu-briggs, which we think was not fully utilised to nip in the bud the descent of the struggle into kidnap for ransom when the ugly trend first reared its head. Mr. Olu Benson Lulu-Briggs is a respected personality in the Niger Delta region whose words carry a lot of weight, yet we cannot recall a single occasion in which he seriously and publicly condemn the various kidnaps for ransom in the region.