History: The Foundation Of Nigeria Is Anchored On The History of Igala Kingdom By Prince Ameh-Jr A.A. Ameh-Ocheje

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“...tampers with Igala’s history, destroys the Foundation of Nigeria… ”            By, Prince Ameh-Jr A.A. Ameh-Ocheje

There is no denying the fact that the landmark judgement that ceded Ajaokuta, Lokoja and Koton Karfe to Igala’s Kingdom has continued to generate reactions both on social media and print media.

In some of these reactions, myths and unfounded theories hinged on favouritism, emotion, gross nepotism and tribalism have emerged!

To separate chaff from facts, Prince Ameh-Jr A.A. Ameh-Ocheje, a scholar per excellent, has come up with a painstaking analysis how Ajaokuta, Lokoja and Koton Karfe have been part of Igala’s kingdom even before precolonial era.

In what Prince Ameh-Jr A.A. Ameh-Ocheje titles as ” The Foundation Of Nigeria Is Anchored On The History of Igala Kingdom, he emphatically stressed that whoever “tampers with Igala’s history, destroys the Foundation of Nigeria.”

Let us read his facts full analysis:

” This research work is an attempt to respond to some misconceptions on the history of Ata Igala and his territories by some unguarded utterances of some groups of people as a result of the Federal High Court judgment delivered on 2nd June, 2020 in Lokoja, that granted the Ata Igala ownership of Aja-okuta, Lokoja and Koton karfi LGAs.

The foundation of any man, people, community, society and nation plays a major significant role in the life of the people.

According to the book of psalms 11:3 “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do”?

Now, if the foundation of Nigeria be destroyed what can Nigerians do?

Again, is like saying that when the foundation of judicial system in Nigeria be destroyed what can the judges and lawyers do?

A society without foundation is like a people without identity, they are like mirage on the highways and debris on the high sea floating without direction.

Thus, the foundations of Nigeria started from some where and is very key, as it has to do with the history of Igala kingdom.

The history of Nigeria can never be completed without the history of Ata Igala and his territories which eventually gave birth to what we called Niger Area today (Nigeria).

Although, some groups of people troupe to the social media want to rewrite the history that has been in existence for more than 200 years ago without any substantial evidences to show off.

It is against this background we want to still reemphasize to the general public especially the doubting Thomas of this age, how the history of Ata Igala and his territories provided a template for the foundation of Nigeria people to take off from there.

Not necessarily because they did not have the knowledge of this history in question but they intent to do otherwise.

However, as a matter of fact without any element of exaggeration, the history of Ata Igala and his kingdom is as old as Methuselah before Nigeria as a nation was given birth.

If the institution of Ata royal stool is not formidable enough by virtue of his territories, the Queen of England in the first place would not have signed any agreement or treaty with Ata Igala in 1841.

Remember, it is pertinent to know that is not all the kings in the pre-colonial era that signed treaties with the Queen of England!

Perhaps, it only those that matter and had a large territory that were the focus of attraction by the colonialists which HRM Ata Igala happened to be one of them.

Such terrific kingdoms and empires were Bini Empire, Oyo Empire, and Bonny Kingdom by Jaja of Opobu, Sokoto Caliphate and Ata Igala Kingdom among others.

Prior to the Federal High Court judgment delivered on the 2nd June, 2020 in favour of Ata Igala granted to him three communities: Ajaokuta, Lokoja and Koton karfi, many renounced scholars had taken pain without having today’s in mind conducted researches that attracted international attention on this territory; talking about Ata Igala and his territories from the Middle Belt region going down to the south both left and right.

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Obayemi (1972), Asserts that, “Igala, before the 19th century inhabited the entire triangular tract of territory on the left bank of the Benue and Niger about 100 kilometers above and below their confluence.

The settlements of the Igala speaking people were also located on the right back of the Niger below the confluence, opposite Itobe.

Thus, the history of the Igala (and indirectly of Kwararafa, Jukun) provides a general framework for the history of the peoples of the Niger-Benue confluence area.”

By implication, both left and right of Niger River covering from Abaji, Toto Imaisha, Koton karfi, Lokoja, Ajaokuta and Geregu communities down-ward are the territories of Ata Igala and his Igalanesian people.

As a matter of fact, history tells us that it is the past that determines the present and the present that prepares the future, if that is obtainable in ideal situation, then we should allow the history to be the guiding principles in this matter.

Read Also:Opinion: Stories Without Substance Emerging As Igala Kingdom Reclaims Ajaokuta, Koton Karfe & Lokoja By Sani Michael Omakoji

Hence, from Obayemi’s analysis, it also suggests that the history of Ata and his territory is much longer than any other ethnic group at the Niger – Benue confluence, which implies that any other ethnic group is originated from Igala people.

The judgment given on June 2nd, 2020 in favour of Ata Igala and his people therefore is not a partial judgment.

The judges in the Federal High Court sitting in Lokoja that delivered the judgment were not afraid of Ata Igala and his people neither were they against the Federal Government of Nigeria, they were just exercising their constitutional rights by virtue of their profession/position, by interpreting the law following the evidences of 1841 agreement presented by the Ata Igala before the law court.

So, those on the social media calling for query of the justice that delivered the judgment should rather go back to history and check the Igala files again because the statement of query is inconsequential, immaterial and has no bearing whatsoever with the judgment of the court.

Nevertheless, where the fake and untrue stories are abound though, the only one truth may tarry but it is much more abounding than them all.

There are some fake histories written by some people on the social media, suggesting that they are the owner of Ajaokuta and others but we tag such stories as baseless histories, histories that do not have a blueprint or manual to show for it, it is rather considered as an aberration.

For one to discuss history convincingly and objectively, he/she must have a corresponding manual.

What are the manuals? The manuals are the evidences to show, and that was what Agabaidu, Ata Igala presented, the documents of 1841 with the Queen of England and that of Samuel Ajayi Crowther.

These were not oral histories yet the people agitated let alone oral tradition or history but there were living documents.

Read Also:Opinion: Being My Rejoinder ToThe Allegation Of Greed & Marginalization Of The Other Nations Within Kogi State By One Alapa Tom Against The Igala Nation

These are the people that want to rewrite the history of Igala people and their territories again and by extension destroying the foundation of our nation.

Many are times, silence encourages the tormentors to ‘worse-stronger’ in his folly but it is not in all cases, the fact that Ata Igala and his people did not said anything about their territories for such long years does not guarantee or permit anybody to start claiming ownership of the territory that they themselves have no knowledge on the land they inhabited.

Altering the history of Igalanesian people and their territories is invariably destroying the foundation, the root of Nigeria people because the foundation of our beloved country is deeply rooted in the history of Igala people and their territories.

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Some people may ask why it is so? It is in the territory of Ata Igala that the name Nigeria was formed; again, the vision of amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorate were conceived and executed in Igala kingdom just to mention but few.

In maintaining the foundation of our existence is a collective responsibility to ensure that nothing tampers with it.

Let us build on the foundations that had been built many years ago rather than laying other foundations different from what had been laid that we know not.

Those forming new stories about these communities and her features Ajaokuta, Lokoja and Koton karfi granted to Ata Igala by Federal High Court sitting in Lokoja June 2nd, 2020 as parts of his territory should please stop.

Do not border to rewrite our history for us again; we actually knew about our history for many years ago so, perseverance in the time of adversities is not an opportunity to defraud the owner of his legitimate property.

Notwithstanding, in the northern flank, according to (Umameh 2018) to x – stray the Igala territorial expansion on the activities of Ata Igala in 1818/2018 that panda, Igu (present day Koton karfi), kakanda as far as the Bussa rapids in Niger State were under Ata’s control, that Prince Ohiemi Negedu established the first chiefdom at panda and was given the royal staff by Ata.

He reiterated that Igala provided leadership and pattern of kingship system.

This is what also transcends to what we called Ohimnagedu of Koton karfi instead of Ohiemi Negedu.

However, in contemporary approximation, Igala kingdom at its summit in the 1830s, covered the entire present day Kogi State, parts of Niger State, Nasarawa, Benue, Enugu, Anambra, Delta and Edo States.

Remember that all the aforementioned states were not there at that time, it was Ata Igala that controls all these territories and he had no restriction to his kingdom.

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The Igala kingdom is too large for any unifying central control, bedeviled by irreconcilable internal rifts, weakened by loss of the economic power eventually fell to the canons of the British colonial empire in early 19th century (Ochonu 2014) cited in (Umameh, 2018).

The Uthman Danfodio troops who attempted to overrun Igala kingdom met a stiff-resistance of Ata Igala dread and terrifying soldiers who made them (Uthman soldiers) to turn their back.

The defeat of Uthman Danfodio soldiers on warfare by the Ata Igala’s warriors, led to the corrupt lingual pronouncement of Koton karfi instead of Akpoto karfi.

The corrupt lingual pronouncement did not only affect Akpoto karfi alone, it also affected Prince Ohiemi Negedu’s name that was the first chiefdom in Panda Igu.

Instead of “Ohiemi Negedu” the name was corrupted to Ohimnagedu as the chief title of Igu.

Coming to the typical meaning of Akpoto, the Igala people on seen the Uthman Danfofio soldiers in their territory, they began to speak Igala to themselves expressing a surprise “Akpo’to” in Igala dialect meaning we are in or we have entered trouble.

Again, the defeat of the Uthman Danfodio soldiers by Ata Igala soldiers led to the conversation among the remains of Uthman Danfodio soldiers by saying “Akpoto suna de karfi” meaning those people are powerful.

Akpoto here refers to Igala people while karfi refers to power in Hausa dialect.

As one carefully looks at the three communities and their features, you will discover that names of these communities are reflected in the features domiciled in each of the community and all of the names took origin from Igala language. For instance: In the table below.

It is not a surprising thing for someone to be in a territory that does not belong to him or his people for so many years although, the owner may not say anything for such a long years yet it did not make you or the person living in that territory the owner of the property or the land.

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It is no longer a news because many Nigerians have been living in Bakassi Peninsula for more than 300 to 400 hundred years in the territory of Cameroun without them (Nigerians) known until International Court of Justice (ICJ) judgment delivered in favour of Cameroun on October 2002.

Remember, President Obasanjo, the famous president of Nigeria did not go to war with Cameroun neither reject the court ruling but he rather choose to do the needful.

Some people claimed that they had not paid tribute to Ata Igala before, and I say, no one can claim that he has not paid tribute to the owner of the land during pre-colonial era.

If you did not pay, your fathers paid to Ata Igala because that is the only major way the pre-colonial kings earn their economic power.

And if it is true that you have not paid tribute to Ata Igala which I did not subscribes to it, it means that your fathers had not inhabited or migrated to Lokoja at that time.

Because you cannot claim to be knowledgeable more than the colonial masters that paid tribute to Ata Igala by given him gifts.

If they did not know that Ata Igala is not the owner of the land they wouldn’t have bordered to go to him.

It is because they knew fully that it was very important to their activities in Ata Igala’s kingdom.

Whenever you are writing and claiming that you are the owner of a community Aja-okuta, Lokoja and Koton-karfi please, endeavour to prove your authenticity objectively and showcase your evidences for public to see. Look at the table No. 2 below.

The table above was extracted from Kogi State own newspaper The Graphic, Wednesday October 1 – Tuesday October 7, 2003 page 11.

From this kingship list you can attest to it that Ajaokuta did not belong to any other ethnic groups other than Igala people.

The only Ebira person that is among the Igalas was appointed by Attah because he did not followed the lineage of family royal kingship.

These are evidences to show as some people writes without any prove to show the public.

Finally, it has been observed vigorously without any iota of doubt that it has become a norm or a tradition to some politicians who so desperately depend on their billions to spend and to change situations to their benefit any time anywhere; well, it may not be in all cases in this matter.

Again, we also understood the society which we live today, where many things go black can easily be called white and white, black just for financial inducement on the part of the politicians.

That’s how some people, some individuals and institutions sold their conscience at the detriment of generations and for the posterity of other people.

In this matter, those of you that are fond of inducing our judiciary to do under-wise should take heed, because this may not be the business as usual.

Enough is enough for the wise!”

Prince Ameh-Jr A.A. Ameh-Ocheje
ABU, Zaria.

References:
Kogi State own newspaper “The Graphic,” Wednesday October 1 – Tuesday October 7, 2003 page 11, Lokoja.

Obayemi, A. (1972).States and Peoples of the Niger-Benue Confluence Area. Paper Presented at the Faculty of Arts and Social Science Seminar, ABU Zaria, 23rd February.

Umameh, M. (2018) Igala – Hausa/Fulani Relations: Past, Present and what Future? (1818-2018): by Researchgate.net/publication/323295840

KJV Life in the Spirit Study Bible
Formerly titled The Full Life Study Bible – King James Version Copyright 1992, 2003 by Life Publishers International Published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530 U.S.A.

Ukwede, J.N. (2003). History of the Igala Kingdom C. 1534 – 1854, A Study of Political and Cultural


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