Although no official announcement has been about rumoured death of Amanyanabo of Kalabari, HM King Prof. TJT Princewill, it appears that a unit of the Royal Family is making plans to install their preferred candidate to replace him.
Niger Delta freedom fighter, Alhaji Mujahid Aasri Dokubo, a custodian of Kalabari customs, revealed this during a recent interview with Kalabari Times.
Question: Alabo, kindly introduce yourself,
I am Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo Asari, Alabo Edi-Abali and Se Bromabo of Kalabari.
Question: we came because of Kalabari National Affairs, which are affecting the nexus of our existence, as a kingdom. I am aware that you are a member of the Royal family (Elebabene). We are much aware that, Kalabari tradition does not permit that a new King or another king should emerge, without the exit/official announcement of the death of the incumbent Amanyanabo. First, at about December last year, 2019, we were briefed that the health of His Majesty, King T. J. T. Princewill was failing and that he had been taken for medical treatment. Whereas the Kalabari people have not been informed of the possible demise of the King or the current state of his health, the Royal household and immediate compound of the incumbent king (Amachree XI), which is Ogo polo, the Elebabene group has shopped for a candidate, to contest for the position of the Amanyanabo of Kalabari kingdom, while nothing has been said about the status of the incumbent monarch. Alabo are you aware of these happenings in the Elebabene Unit of the King Abbi Royal Family?
My father, Hon. Justice Melford Dokubo Goodhead was a senior judge. His mother, Okukuba Wilkinson Dokubo Goodhead (Nee Ogo Princewill), was the biological daughter of Ogo, Ogo was the son of King Kariboye Abbi (Amachree IV), King Kariboye Abbi was the son of Da Karibo, Amachree III and King Karibo was the son of King Amachree I, this is my link to the royal family.
On Friday, April 17, 2020, I got a text message for a meeting at 12noon, hence I went for the meeting with an attendance of about twelve, thirteen persons. That meeting lasted for about five hours, from 12noon to 5pm. As I joined the proceedings of the meeting, I was briefed of issues earlier discussed before my arrival. From then, they said, they wanted to elect somebody from Ogo House who will represent the Elebabene Unit for the Amanyanabo of Kalabari contest. Myself and Chief Moneyman, we asked them to hold on, on the issue of the Amanayabo, because, there are other people who have interest in Elebabene house to become Amanayabo, so let them come so that there will be a level playing ground for all the people who are aspiring, but they refused. It is a preplanned agenda. They went ahead to vote. Chief Papaye Christopher Princewill said, he wants to be king, it is his right. He is the son of Christopher, Christopher is the son of King Jacob Tom Princewill, and the latter is the son of Ogo and Ogo is the son of King Kariboye Abbi. Therefore, Papaye has every right to be Amanyanabo of Kalabari; so he nominated himself. They requested for a nomination fee of fifty thousand and later one hundred thousand naira.
We told them that, what is happening at the meeting is wrong, so myself and Chief Moneyman abstained from the proceeding. Omona who had also indicated interest for the contest, said his money was not complete. Though from beginning, Omona said, he will not partake, but I asked him to pay the money. We were there; the process was on, so we staged a walk out. We were twelve chiefs at the meeting, two of us abstained, so nine voted, including Chief Papaye, to endorse Chief Papaye Christoper J. T. Princewill as the candidate for the Elebabene house as contestant for the stool of the Amanyanabo of Kalabari.
Question: As Se Bromabo I of Kalabari, this is a very trying moment for the King Kariboye Abbi Royal family and the entire Kingdom, so have you considered this upheaval in the Elebabene house and its effects on the Kalabari Kingdom? First, the Ogo house has not informed the Buguma Council of Chiefs and Kalabari Council of Chiefs that our monarch, His Majesty, King Prof. T. J. T. Princewill, Amachree XI, has died. Are these happenings within the Elebabene house not poised to be a challenge to the Kalabari Se?
All of these issues we pointed out to the conveners of this meeting. We told them that His Majesty, King Prof. T. J. T. Princewill is not dead, so there is no need for a new king to emerge or the contest, but our opinions were brushed aside. There are some of us who were very angry at the happenings, but some persons will tell you, that Amachree II (King Tyger) ruled while Amachree I was still alive.
But that era of King Amachree I and now are not the same. Then Kalabari was a sovereign state but today no. and in a sovereign state there cannot be a vacuum, it must be filled immediately. Kalabari is not even a state today, but part of Nigerian state, so you cannot take such far-reaching decisions without following due process. What are those decisions? Upon the death of the Amanyanabo of Kalabari, the immediate family will announce it. We are not aware, nobody has told us that the king has died, it is only speculations, but this action has come to prove that Amanyanabo is actually dead for every one of us to know and it’s saddening. Since I was born, Ogo and Elebabene have not done pre-election, I was there during the time of King Cotton Kieni Amachree, maybe Borowita unit does it, I am not aware of it.
The Ogo house has never done selections before, nature throws out the person; every election, one person. No time has two persons emerged as contenders for the Amanyanabo stool from Ogo house. During King Cotton era, we had Natheniel J. T. Princewill. Also at the time of King Obaye Abbiyesuku, the Ogo house only presented Natheniel J. T. Princewill. At no time had the Elebabene unit done a pre-selection, of who will represent them for the Amanyanabo contest and there is hardly anytime, that Borowita family had produced a sole candidate.
They always produce multiple candidates at all times, that is why people are saying that the actions of those who did selection within the Elebabene household had put us in a very difficult situation. How do we do it, do we accept Chief Papaye C. J. T. Princewill to go and stand for Elebabene or do we look for another? Then the Elebabene house will be divided. The circumstance is a very unfortunate one. To appoint Amanyanabo now, the attendant cost is very expensive.
I, as an individual, am not a fan of Borowita and Elebabene divide. I stand for the best candidate, who will be able to lead Kalabari. It is the most traumatic period for the King Amachree royal house, because we have a governor, Governor Wike, who is antagonistic to the Kalabari people and he will use this opportunity to circumvent the whole process and to give us puppet, that will not be able to talk.
Question: Alabo, being a member of Ogo Polo and Se Bromabo, what is the solution to this quagmire?
The happenings in Ogo Polo are unknown to Kalabari conventions and laws. From the time of King Kariboye Abbi to now, a new Amanyanabo cannot be appointed without the burial of the preceding Amanyanabo. Our custom is, upon the demise of the Amanyanabo, the immediate family will inform the relevant sections, then the demised Amanyanabo will be buried and a period given for mourning before a new Amanyanabo will emerge. So you cannot appoint another Amanyanabo if the incumbent is still alive, right from the era of King Kariboye-Abbi. Hence there is a preponderance of this opinion that the incumbent Amanyanabo must be buried, laid to rest and a period of mourning passes before a new Amanyanabo can emerge.
From King Amachree I to Amachree IV and from Amachree IV to now (Amachree XI), you will see that there are even more Amanyanabos on the latter side (from Amachree IV to Amachree XI), who had followed the process, the new convention in Kalabari, the new norms that until any Amanyanabo dies, nobody can appoint another Amanyanabo. Although they will point to us that King Fred Princewill was alive when King Cotton Amachree became Amanyanabo. For King Fred case, he supported Biafra; he believed that Biafra was the only thing that could guarantee safety, progress and interest of the Kalabari state, but unfortunately, Kalabari people did not see. So when he abdicated- he left the throne; they used that excuse to appoint a new Amanyanabo. Both King (Fredrick and Cotton) died almost same time, a few months apart.
For me, the precedence that has been set by several kings should be followed. Even in Ogo house, it is not everybody that will be involved in the selection; it is not the whole of Elebabene house. I don’t think this action would mean anything, other than, that at that time, a few people may be would want to become chiefs. Nobody has the right to prevent anybody from becoming chief that is the way I see it.
The problem with Kalabari people is that we are cowardly; one has to say the truth. You are seeing the truth, you cannot confront the truth. You want a few people to confront the truth and make enemies. I cannot be King, I am the son of a woman. Yes, some persons are saying that the son of a woman can become king. Let it not be that because you have might, you should start it. I will not be the person to start anomaly.
They are not talking now! They will rather call you to complain of the acts of others. If you call them to say, let us collectively in unity sit to take decision, you will not see them again. They have brought you to the fore (Ini ke agbo da te, responding ini ene iki agbo dabia. Laughter). But it is saddening that at the end of the day, you are the person that will come out and confront the anomaly.
When Prof. T. J. T. Princewill wanted to become Amanyanabo, ninety nine percent of what happened was me. I became an enemy of my cousin, Prof. Tam David-West. Myself and Prof. Tam David-West were very close. His mother and my mother were of the same father, but in support of Prof. T. J. T. Princewill, I had to fight Prof. Tam David-West to the end. Today, some people want me to do the same thing, fight Chief Faithful Abbiyesuku, Chief Papaye, fight this person, wrestle all of them to the ground and you ascend the throne.
Imagine, throughout the period of His Majesty, King Prof. T. J. T. Princewill there were no two-three months that we were in good terms. We were always at loggerhead, because there were decisions that were taken that were wrong. For instance, the Elebike group of houses, when Prof and his council took the decision that Elebike Compound is Tom Polo, Tom was not a chief at Elem-ama, he came as a Mister. Da Tom was Elebike, when he left Elem-ama, so how can he have a compound? As I am, I’m Edi-Abali, because that is the stool am occupying, what I do or where I go, they are not seeing me as Alhaji Asari Dokubo, rather as Edi-Abali.
If I had established my chieftaincy, Alhaji Asari Dokubo stool, to which I can install my son or anybody, then you can refer to that chief as Alhaji Dokubo Asari. When His Majesty took this decision, I confronted him. We quarreled. I am a son of Elebike, son of Elebabene. His majesty, is a son of Elebike. I told him, are you erasing the name and memory of your father? But because at that time Chief Diamond Tobin West(now King) had some disagreement with His Majesty, therefore the name/memory of Elebike should be erased and the compound be named Tom Polo.
Also in Tariah’s Compound, Nabobuari is the second to Tariah, you will then sit at the king Amachree Hall with your council of Chiefs and appoint the second in command; Nabobuari to head the Tariah’s house, and you think the Tariah house will accept it. They will not accept it, rather they would remind you that when your father became King, it was Tariah who fought and lost his eyes, became blind for your father, King Karibo, to become King at Elem-ama. What sacrifice have you made for Tariah that you add salt, pepper to his blind eyes, which was for your father’s sake and the same you’re benefitting from. There are people who are reckless. I have never had a personal problem with Prof. T. J. T. Princewill, except DO THE RIGHT THING!
Prof, His Majesty said, he is the King, so he can do anything and I told him, he cannot. You cannot do it. When he was I alive, I went to him, I told him both of us are equal. You are Da Ogo son, I am also Ogo son. The only thing is that we all collectively decided that you should act in the capacity of Da Amachree on our behalf. We all surrendered our powers to you, hence we are stakeholders and you cannot willfully do anything. That is not to say you must oppress us. You can oppress some people, but there also some that you cannot oppress. Therefore, I and His Majesty, we are friends today, tomorrow we are at variance. I did not benefit, not even cash. But I am contented with the little I have.
These are two cases; the one of Da Elebike, from Elem ama it was his stool that got to Buguma, now the compound is not Elebike again. Like Tariah polo, it was Anya (Amatoru) that came with the Tariah Chieftaincy War Canoe House from Elem ama to Buguma, why is the Tariah’s compound not named Amatoru polo, since it was Amatoru that led the Tariah’s house. Then Anya (Amatoru) wasn’t a chief, he was only on the Tariah’s stool. There are so many compounds like that, that the owners of the compounds did not come to Buguma, for example- Da Seliye Fubara Polo, Orikadibia, etc.
Orikadibia, while we were small, it was called Egede polo, now it is called Orikadibia Polo. However, Orikadibia stool is gone into extinction, it is not existing, as he could not survive one of the ancient wars, but because Egede is linked to Orikadibia, its named after Orikadibia polo. A lot of injustice, I am king, therefore I can act freely, as it pleases me.
Cowardly, cowardice, look at Kalabari Kingdom, is a tripod. The Tripod, not meaning Abonnema, Bakana and Buguma, No. The tripod is Da Amachree, Da Odum and Da Ombo; this is the Kalabari chieftaincy tripod. These chiefs (Amachree, Odum and Ombo) administered and represented the Kalabari nation. For instance, Da Amachree shared his children: he took Ekine and placed him under Odum, he took Karibo into the household of Ombo.
Da Ombo, became the natural leader of the Amachree group of houses with other persons who joined to promote the Amachree house.
But, during the reign of King Kariboye-Abbi, there were numerous anomalies; a lot of things that were not supposed to be done were done. How can you take Ikiri, the foster son of Da Ikpo and make him one and half, whereas, Da Ombo, father of Ikpo, is not placed. Rather, Ikiri; Ikpo’s foster son, is allocated one and half portions, sitting at the high table with King Abbi, while Da Ombo and Da Ikpo are among the general floor.
When Prof. T. J. T. emerged, I went to him, requested this be corrected, he listened to me and lifted Da Odum and Da Ombo to one and half status respectively. I told him to also elevate Da (Elebike, Tariah) to that height also, he said no, doing so will make others to demand for elevation also. I said yes, because these people made contributions. If they had given Ikiri, then they have to give Edi-abali. Because Da (Tariah, Edi-Abali and Debo) made Da Kariboye King at Elem-ama.
They fought with the Odum house to install Da Karibo, who was a younger person, as the then king of the Kingdom. There were so many intricacies, when Da Amakro (Tyger-Amachree II) was reigning, Ikiniyanabo (King Amakro- Amachree II) decided to sell one of the warriors of Da Amachree I into slavery; Da Ikaki. Ikaki was a valiant and gallant member of the Da Amachree war canoe.
When Da Ombo saw, that Ikaki was sold into local slavery, not among those going abroad, but rather to Igbo people and they were taken Da Ikaki away. Immediately, Da Ombo had to redeem Ikaki from his slave master that Da Tyger had sold him to. If you go Ikpo polo today, you will still see the house of Ikaki.
In the evening, Da Ombo and his son, Da Karibo, went to see Ikiniyanabo (King Amakro Tyger- Amaachree II). After pleasantries, Da Ombo, told Amachree II, how he saw Ikaki being taken away by the igbo slave merchants. This infuriated Amachree II, and he immediately asked Da Ombo, if he (Amachree II) cannot also sell Da Ombo. “So you have grown to question my authority” said Amachree II to Da Ombo. “Can’t I sell you, Ombo?” This also infuriated Da Ombo, who himself was a strong warior also. In the midst of this feud, Da Karibo pleaded with Da Ombo for them (Da Ombo and Karibo) to leave the presence of Amachree II.
Upon their (Da Ombo and Karibo) return, Da Ombo assembled, Edi-Abali, Tariah and others. He instructed them to ensure that Karibo is made king even in his (Ombo) absence immediately after the demise of Amachree II, irrespective of the fact that Ekine was senior to Karibo. Hence, on the demise of King Amakro Tyger-Amachree II, these persons Da (Edi-Abali, Tariah, Debo) and others fought with the Odum house, who presented Ekine as the candidate of Odum house and ensured the enthronement of King Karibo as Amachree III.
Kalabari people are backward, because we cannot say the truth and once the truth is not told, there won’t be unity and progress.