Abonnema Crisis: Nobody Has Authority to Depose Monarch without Govt Approval, Says Wike

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Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has declared that nobody has the authority to depose a first class traditional ruler in the state without the approval of the state government.

Wike expressed disappointment with elders of Abonnema Community whom he said accused of brewing crisis in the area and maintained that the Amayanabo of Abonnema, King Disrael Bob-Manuel, remains a duly recognised first class traditional ruler in the state.

Speaking during a solidarity visit by the Amayanabo of Abonnema, King Disrael Bob-Manuel, and Abonnema Council of Chiefs at the Government House Port Harcourt yesterday, Wike expressed regret that security agencies have allowed themselves to be used by some persons to illegally intervene in chieftaincy affairs.

He said: “Nobody has deposed you (Amayanabo of Abonnema). It is only the state government that has the power to depose a first class traditional ruler and we have no intention to depose the Amayanabo of Abonnema.
“Our security agencies have gone so low that they are now involved in everything, including chieftaincy affairs. Soon, they will involve themselves in husband and wife issues. Can they carry an emir like that? Can they carry an Oba like that? We pray they withdraw from such illegal activity.”

Wike charged youths of Abonnema to remain alert in the defence of their traditional heritage, saying no group should be allowed to distort the traditional order.
The governor decried the situation where prominent elderly people from the area have refused to understand the meaning of peace, hence they have resorted to instigating crisis.

He assured Abonnema Council of Chiefs that he would take up the matter with the state Commissioner of Police and also make a formal report at the Nigerian Army headquarters on the illegal deployment of soldiers to arrest the Amayanabo of Abonnema.

He wondered why the feuding Abonnema United Founding Fathers would spread the false report that some persons were planning to kill Chief OB Lulu-Briggs.

“I don’t know whether they know the implication of the crisis they are generating. There is no need for anyone to create crisis in a very peaceful community,” he said.
He stated that the entire Abonnema conflict is politically motivated and aimed at achieving pre-meditated political goals.

Wike assured the people of Abonnema that his administration would continue to execute meaningful projects in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area.

“Abonnema people supported us totally. We will do more for the people of Abonnema,” he said.
Earlier, Amayanabo of Abonnema, King Disrael Bob-Manuel said that he has come with Abonnema Council of Chiefs to seek the protection of the governor from persons using the security agencies to illegal disrupt the traditional order in the area.

He informed the Rivers State Governor that plans had been concluded to arrest him on trump up allegations, noting that the Inspector General of Police and the Nigerian Army were involved in the scheme.
He added that soldiers invaded Abonnema town with the intent of installing Chief OB Lulu-Briggs as a Regent, but were resisted by youths, women and elders.

“They are laying the ground for the perpetration of impunity. I seek your protection and that of the Rivers State Government. They want to arrange the basis to infringe on my freedom. I urge the Rivers State Governor to intervene,” he said.

Some chiefs of the community, under the aegis of United Founding Fathers of Abonnema, had last Monday announced the suspension of the monarch for refusing to adhere to the directives of the Council of Chiefs and the Ekine Sekiapu Society of Abonnema, to embark on self-cleansing so as to prove that he was innocent of an allegation of witchcraft levelled against him.

But the community and the Abonnema Council of Chiefs also met last Wednesday and subsequently announced the suspension of the “renegade” chiefs: Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas, Chief Enoch Granville, Chief Edmund Young Jack, Chief Beremabo Pedro, Alabo Anthony Oweredaba and Chief A. B. Ajumogobia for allegedly embarrassing the throne and people of Abonnema by their purported suspension of the monarch.