Family announces death of Rivers king 3 years after he passed on

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By Okenyi Kenechi

Prince Tonye Princewill has officially announced the death of Amanyanabo of Kalabari Kingdom, King Professor Theophilus Jacob Tom Princewill, more than three years after the King died.

The late Amanyanabo was a revered academic and a pillar of the Kalabari tradition, a scion of the Amachree dynasty.

In a statement on Saturday, Princewill, who didn’t disclose the date of death of the revered King, described his late father as his best friend.

The statement read in part, “The King has departed. Long live the KingdomKingdom.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I am formally announcing the departure of my father, our King and His Serene Majesty, King Prof. T.J.T Princewill, Amachree the XI and Amanyanabo of the Kalabari Kingdom. He was not just my father; he was also my best friend.

“Earlier today, the Buguma Council of Chiefs and the Kalabari Council of Chiefs were formally briefed, all in accordance with Kalabari tradition, thereby opening the door to our now officially informing the world, as the cart can not be put before the horse.

“Further announcements will follow in the days and weeks to come, but we call on you for your prayers and your well wishes, not just for the family, but for the entire Kalabari Kingdom. He’ll truly be missed.”

Succession bids

In May 2020, rumours of the Amanyanabo’s death sparked a kingship succession battle in the Kingdom after one of the three units of the Royal Household of Buguma that usually produces the Amanyanabo – the Elebabene Unit – elected Chief Papaye Christopher J.T. Princewill as its candidate that will contest for the throne of the Amanyanabo of Kalabari.

Papaye was said to be related to Odiah Princewill, who was chairman of the Asari Toru Local Government Area at the time. Odiah died of Covid-19 months later.

However, the election of a candidate by the Elebabene house did not go down well with the other Royal Houses, which believed that the Elebabene house was too fast in electing a candidate for the contest of the Amanyanaboship throne when the incumbent, King TJT Princewill, has not been officially announced dead.

Sources revealed that before the process for the election of a new Amanyanabo begins, the late incumbent must have died and been buried.

On 18th September 2021, a new crisis erupted in the Kingdom after some Da Abbi Royal House members tried to install Karibo Abbiyiboye Aribo Abbi as the Amanyanabo. Karibo, who led a faction of Amanyanabo seekers, broke into King Amachree Hall to establish himself as Amanyanabo. The faction, who were supported by a contingent of security agents, also broke into the Akaso shrine to perform installation rituals of their factional King and forcefully appointed another Waingi Alabo (Chief Priest Of The Akaso). The failed installation destroyed the doors of King Amachree Memorial Hall and King Abbi Memorial Hall, all in Buguma City.

Speaking on the failed installation, Asari Dokubo, a former Niger Delta agitator, blamed the crisis on the failure of the family of the late Amanyanabo to bury him immediately. Dokubo accused them of using the opportunity to collect accruals for the throne from the local government area. Dokubo said announcing the late monarch’s death would help settle the rifts over who replace him as Amanyanabo.

Dokubo, in a video posted on his Facebook page, however, said that if Karibo desired to be the Amanyanabo, he had to do it through the right channel.

According to him, any more acts of brigandage by the faction would be met with stiff resistance, adding that they could resist him and his sponsors.

However, the Council of Chiefs of Da Abbi Royal House subsequently denied claims that the Royal House had installed Karibo as the Amanyanabo of the Kalabari Kingdom. Some Chiefs of the Kingdom, Chief Amachree Flag Amakiri, Chief Akaodu Harrison, Chief Inye Cotton Kieni Amachree, and Chief (Barr.) O. T. Amachree condemned the action of the faction led by Karibo and urged the general public to resist them.

Also, the National Vice President of Buguma Internal Affairs Society (BIAS) and former Commissioner for Water Resources, Hon. Lolo Ibieneye, called on members of the Royal House to continue on the path of peace for the community’s interest to encourage residents to live productive lives.

Speaking on behalf of the Chiefs, Chief Inye Amachree said that there were due processes set out to precede the installation of the King of the Kingdom.

According to him, “We are no longer in the dark ages. Our history stares at us. From 1932 to date, if you are talking of the installation of the King of Kalabari Kingdom, it is not only by the words, ‘I am a Prince’.

“We only have princely Chiefs who were paramount rulers and heads of houses before they emerged as Amanyanabo of Kalabari Kingdom. You cannot become the Amanyanabo of the Kalabari Kingdom only by being a Prince. No! Since 1932 it has been reserved only for princely Chiefs”.

Da Abbi Royal House Council of Chiefs also converged at the palace of the late King to register their displeasure over the incident and resolved to work together as one indivisible family to protect the stool of their father. Consequently, they cautioned members and Chiefs outside of Da Abbi Royal House to steer clear of the stool of the Amanyanabo of the Kalabari Kingdom.