Opinion: Reflection On The Judgement Of The FHC In Attah Igala Vs AGF By, Barrister Salifu Oguche Usman

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There is no denying the fact that there have been series of theories ‘for and against’ the Federal High Court ( FHC ) Judgement sitting in Lokoja on 2nd June 2020 that overlorded Ajaokuta, Koton Karfe and Lokoja to Igala’s Kingdom.

While others have eulogized the judgement that it has corrected the old time injustice melted on Igalas by the colonial Masters, others have alluded the judgement as a modern day imperialism.

In this particular article, a legal icon, Salifu Oguche Usman who has indept knowledge of History, educates the young at hearts and the elders who care to know on what he titles: Reflection On The Judgement Of The FHC In Attah Igala Vs AGF”.

Let us read his interesting write-up:

“The judgment of the Federal High Court, sitting in Lokoja the Kogi state capital has dominated discussion among citizens of Kogi extraction both within and outside the state with some questioning the rationale behind the Attah’s action for seeking redress over issues that ought to have been allowed to rest and some jubilating over the perceived gains or loss of a section of the state.

I wish to state in my humble opinion that the Attah like any other Nigerian with rights and liabilities, some acquired and inherited is at liberty to seek legal redress when he feels his rights or interest have been violated or trampled upon in any way.

In that regard, I think the Attah did no wrong in approaching the court for non performance of contract terms as entered into between his progenitors and those of modern Nigeria who incidentally failed to live true to their obligations under the said contract.

Let me state this fact with the advantage of hindsight that successive Attahs, especially the last two Attahs of this information era have been under serious pressure from Igala sons and daughters who have good sense of history, cultural organizations and movements to seek pronouncement on the issue of historical ownership of Ajaokuta, Lokoja and Koto Karfe.

This much has been the subject of discussions in quarters such as the breakfast session of the Igala Hall of Fame and Igala Consciousness Re_Awakening Forum.

In most of the times, the Attah is pressured to take the lead in reclaiming the Igala lost glory and bringing her lost brothers back to her original fold.

I wish to state that it is in living up to this expectation that the action of Attah Idakwo Michael Ameh_Oboni’s action in this regard should be situated and appreciated.

The Action is not meant to cause division, hatred and a sense of ownership or superiority amongst and between the present occupants of the confluence area, rather it is meant to reconcile us with our historical evolution and awaken in us an identification renaissance.

Again, the judgment while will naturally illicit condemnation from our brothers on the other divides who think same is aimed at enthroning a privilege status for the Igala Nation, I will rather suggest that we treat same with some retrospection as such contrite objective cannot by no means be achieved in a complex society as today Nigeria.

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The point of the Attah’s action must not be missed on the account of the drum of war of some tribal warlords, it is aimed at digging out the historical ownership or overlord of the territories.

It should be situated that according to historical evidence, the Attah Igala was the custodian of the entire land around the confluence and his kingdom was the dominant one bothering only the Benin, Jukun Kwararafa and Hausa Fulani emirate.

It is common knowledge that kingdoms such as the Tor Tiv, the Ohinoyi, the Oche Idoma and more were a creation of colonial imperialism between the 1920s and the 1950s.

The Igala kingdom however like it’s Benin and Kwararafa counterparts have been in existence for centuries even prior to the Advent of colonialism.

While not seeking to promote Igala hegemony, supremacy or ownership as been insinuated in some quarters, I beg to make some posals here. I. e. If all of the kingdoms and chiefdoms across the Nigerian confluence including the Ohinoyi were established between 1920s and 1950s, who then was the Lord or overlord of these territories prior to the settlement of the present tribes that inhabits these places?

Could it be said that these territories were without owner’s until the present dwellers or settlers moved in?

Is there a possibility that the Igala’s who happened to be the oldest and most established kingdom around the confluence had ownership over these territories but as a result of their trade contracts with the queen abandoned those areas which were eventually taken up by settlers in the last 200 years?

If the last posal is resolved in the affirmative, does it not naturally flows that the Igala Nation remain for the purpose of history and glory the historical owner of these territories?

I wish to submit that this judgment if seen from a positive perspective will do us a lot of good as a people.

Let us adopt the intellectual approach in resolving this impasse as was done by the Yorubas and the Benins in resolving their recent conflicting claim over he traditional ownership of Lagos.

I think our traditional leaders have a duty to educate their subjects on the true imports of the judgment or debacle, they have a duty to make them understand that the Judgment does not and cannot affect their established rights and privileges as Kogites, that it doesn’t confer privilege position or superiority of one tribe over another but that it only straightens history, promote re_alignment of traditional obeisance cum loyalty and the appertaining royalty in the Nigerian rent patronage system.

My Ajaokuta_Ganaja brothers should know that it cannot and doesn’t seek to up turn their land ownership and sale over the years, my Lokoja brothers should know that the Igala’s already have a fair share of Lokoja resources both in land and otherwise and cannot hide under any guise to seek otherwise.

My Koto brothers should be made to understand that we only seek to be reconciled as their lost brother and nothing more.

It is only when we all are made to understand that ultimately, no single tribe is interested in dominating the other or even capable of dominating another, then and only then will we maximize the true essence of the judgment.

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Let us refuse to fall for the schemes of ethnic supremacist, no tribe or race is better than the other, except that in a free and fair democratic environment, the bigger entity will always take advantage of her numerical strength.

Let us continue to engage ourselves on this historical contest with facts and figures without bitterness and rancour.

God bless Kogi state and anéIgala kinyógba..”

Salifu Oguche Usman
Legal Expert
Abuja- Nigeria

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