The traditional heads of Abonemma community in the Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State have suspended the Amanyanabo of Abonnema, King Disrael Gbobo Bobmanuel, as the Chairman, Council of Chiefs.
Bobmanuel was suspended over an allegation of witchcraft.
In a suspension letter, dated November 20, 2017, served on Bobmanuel, he was accused of 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 the allegation of witchcraft levelled against him.
Governor Nyesom Wike had recently upgraded the traditional stool that Bobmanuel occupy, making him a first-class monarch in Rivers.
Signitories to the letter suspending Bobmanuel are Alabi Tonye Graham-Douglas, Chief Enoch Granville, Chief E.K.Y. Jack, Chief Anthony Oweredaba, Chief A.B. Ajumogobia, Chief Berembo Pedro and Chief M.T. Membere.
The council of chiefs said instead of abiding by the directives to embark on self-cleansing, Bobmanuel went to the Rivers State High Court in Degema to enforce his fundamental human rights.
“We, the undersigned chiefs, as incumbents/representatives of the founding War Canoe Chieftaincy Houses of Abonnema, have viewed with dismay, discontent and abject disappointment the narratives surrounding the allegation of witchcraft against you (Bobmanuel), who incidentally is the head of Owukori House of Abonnema and for which reason you presided over the affairs of the Abonnema Council of Chiefs as Amayanabo of Abonnema.
“Aware of the far-reaching implications and the integrity question the said allegation would pose to the nobility of the Abonnema Council of Chiefs and by extension, the Abonnema Community at large, the Ekine Sekiapu Society of Abonnema requested you to embark on a self-cleansing exercise to prove that you are innocent of the allegation.
“Rather than heed the request of the Ekine-Sekiapu Society, you instituted Suit N0: DHC/10/2017 – HRM DISREAL GBOBO BOB-MANUEL (II) V. CHIEF PRECIOUS ELEKIMA & ORS to enforce your fundamental human rights and sought a declaration amongst others, that the decision reached by the Ekine Sekiapu society of Abonnema through the respondents in the said suit on the 4th January, 2017 is ultra vires, null and void.
“You said the respondents or their Ekine Sekiapu Society are not lawfully clothed with authority to pronounce on or make decision on the basis of a process of a court of competent jurisdiction in Suit N0: DHC/30/2016.
“We have been duly informed that your attempt to avert the self-cleansing exercise by the application you filed at the Degema High Court was unsuccessful as the High Court of Rivers State, Degema Division delivered judgment in the suit, dismissing your application with cost.
“On the basis of the decision of the high court handed down on Thursday, the 16th day of November, 2017 and the need to maintain the integrity of the Abonnema Council of Chiefs, and having exhaustively deliberated on the issues surrounding the allegation of witchcraft against you, we, the undersigned, representing a majority of the incumbents of the 11 founding fathers of Abonnema, do hereby give notice to you that you are suspended forthwith as Chairman, Abonnema Council of Chiefs unless and until you perform the self-cleansing exercise and in the manner prescribed by the Ekine Sekiapu Society of Abonnema.
“Consequently, upon the foregoing suspension, High Chief (Dr.) O. B. Lulu-Briggs, OON, is hereby appointed Regent/Chairman Abonnema Council of Chiefs to oversee the affairs of the Abonnema Council of Chiefs until the issues surrounding the allegations are fully and finally resolved,” the letter read patly.
However, several calls and a text message sent to the mobile phone of the suspended monarch by newsmen were not responded to.