On January 22, 1878, Baron de Overbeck was conferred the title Datu Bandahara and Rajah of Sandakan by Sultan Mahomed Jamal Al Alam, Sultan of Sulu.
The Sultan announced:
“To all nations of the earth whom these matters may concern, certain portions of the dominions owned by us comprising all the lands on the north and east coast of Borneo … we do hereby nominate and appoint Baron de Overbeck supreme and independent ruler of the above named territories with the title of Datu Bandahara and Rajah of Sandakan.”
The announcement was made at the palace of the sultan at Lipuk in the island of Sulu.
It was also in this occassion, through the instrumentation of Sir Alfred Dent, that the Sultan of Sulu was induced to transfer to a company formed by Baron de Overbeck and Sir Dent, his possession in North Borneo for a lease of 5,000 Mexican dollars annually and the Sultan to collect the rent in Sandakan.
The Spanish campaigns for Christendom had despoiled the Sultan’s realm with steamships and heavy cannon. It is recorded that not a house was left whole anywhere on Jolo. As the Sultanate had thus been ruined, fields and homes alike, the royal revenues were sorely depleted. To recoup the Islamic bourse, therefore, the Sultan made the deal with the British.
In later years, the Sultan would claim that the original agreement of which duplicate copies were made, in Sulu language, was dated and for only 50 years.
The Sultan’s copy of the agreement was burned in the war with Spain. The other copy was said to be locked up securely in the vault of the company in London.
American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Journal, Pages 11-13, Volume 6, Number 7, July 1926