HISTORY OF THE IGALA PEOPLE AND KINGDOW
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE IGALA KINGDOM
It is not possible to assign any specific date as to when the Igala kingship or the institution of the Attahship began due to the absence of historical records and the diversity of legends and traditions surrounding these institutions. Various traditions link the Igala kingship with the Yoruba, Nupe, Benin and Jukun. Similarities as well as differences in the institutions of divine kingship and court ceremonials among the Igala, Yoruba, Benin and Jukun have led among other things to controversies among historians about the origin of Igala kingship.
Some (historians) claim that the first Igala came from Yoruba, others say that he came from Benin. Others believe that he came from Jukun. These claims or hypothesis make many people believe that the members of Igala ruling family are aliens. But others believe that the origin of Igala kingship is Igala.
THE DIFFERENT TRADITIONS THAT LINK THE IGALA KINGSHIP TO THE YORUBA, NUPE, BENIN AND JUKUN
a. The Igala kingship and Yoruba connection
i. Bishop Crowther: Bishop Ajayi Crowther recorded tales of a foreign prince who migrated to Idah at an unknown date. ‘A Yoruba Oba travelled to Rabba the old Nupe capital on the Niger and beseeched the Nupe king to provide him with a suitable habitat. He was taken to Idah where the Akpoto the owners of the land allowed him to stay.
ii. Adolphe Burdo: Adolphe Burdo in the course of his journey along the Niger in 1878 gave related version of the original story of the Igala kingship with that of Bishop Crowther. Burdo writes that ‘After the annexation of the Yoruba to the Fulani by the king. The Sultan of Rabba asked for another state in exchange of what he lost. Far from being angry the sultan set out and descended the Niger and arrived at Idah which the Akpoto then inhabited. He bought the territory and installed there the defeated sovereign who took the title of Attah which signifies father or patriarch.
iii. Dr. J. S. Boston: Dr. Boston seems to favour the view that the origin of the Igala kingship is Yoruba. In his contributions to the journal of historical society of Nigeria (No. 3 December 1962), he recognized the Yoruba, Benin and Jukun influence on Igala kingship. He finally said tat Yoruba link may be the most ancient. b. The Igala kingship and Benin link
i. Bishop Crowther: During his visit to Idah in 1854, Bishop Crowther also recorded another story about the origin of the Igala kingship. According to Bishop Crowther, the Igala country originally belonged to Akpoto tribesmen and that the king was named Igala (Ogala). The first Attach was a hunter by profession who came from a tribe named Ado (Edo) to the west of the Niger. He curried favour with Igara the king by gifts of game. Later as a result of a quarrel, he expelled Igara (the king) from Idah and became king.
ii. Chief Amana Edime: Chief Amana Edime, the Ochai Attah of Igala is of the view that the origin of Igala kingship is Benin. He noted that there was a Benin Prince and a hunter who set up a camp at Ojuwo Atogwu (Attah Ogwu) near Igalogba. He gave gifts of game to the local population. The prince was said to have miraculous powers of healing sick people in the area. Because of these alleged divine powers and popularity and with the people and when asked to accept the kingship (he) agreed.
iii. Mr. Jacob Egbarevba: A Benin historian, Mr. Jacob Egbarevba is also of the view that the origin of the Igala kingship is Benin. According to him, the first Attah was a Benin Prince who was sent there by an Oba of Benin.
iv. Mr. K. C. Murray: Mr. K. C. Murray a historian and fine Artist is of the opinion that the origin of Igala kingship is Benin. In his discussion of the Royal Mask (Eju b’eju ailo) at Idah, he said that is was a beautiful example of Benin work of fairly early period when Ife influence was strong.
v. G. T. Mott: Mr. G. T. Mott, a former British Colonial Officer in the Igala division argued in an unpublished report that the origin of the Igala kingship is not Jukun but Benin. He based his deductions on probable Benin origin of Attah’s mask(Eju beju ailo) the wearing of beads on the wrists as symbols of chieftaincy and the keeping of the kings death secret for a number of years.
c. The Igala Origin of Igala kingship
i. Okwoli P. E.: In 1973, the author (Mr. Okwoli P. E.) concluded that the origin of the Igala kingship is Igala. According to him, Idah the traditional Igala capital had the economic, social and geographical factors which enabled the earliest inhabitants to evolve their kingship. He believes that the earliest Igala Attah lived in the Igalamela area called Opata (Olopu Attah). He also believes that at certain stages of the development of the Igala kingship at Idah certain importance influences such as the political intrusions of new rulers reached Idah, first from Benin and secondly from Jukun. He also identified three dynasties in the development of the Igala kingship Igala, Benin and Jukun dynasties.
d. The Igala kingship and Jukun connections
i. Mr. Clifford Miles: Mr. Clifford Miles former British Colonial Divisional Officer in Igala, firmly views that the origin of Igala kingship is Jukun. The Igala chiefdom he argued was founded by the ancestress Queen Ebulejonu, the daughter of Abutu Eje a noble of the Jukun court at Wukari. Abutu Eje left Wukari with a large crowd as a result of political reasons and migrated westwards along the southern bank of the river Benue and came to a temporary halt in the vicinity of Amagede (now in Omala LGA) where he Abutu Eje died, his daughter, stepped into her fathers shoes and led her people from Amagede to Idah were she was installed as the first Attah Igala.
So began the regime of the Attah in Idah. It is not possible to give an accurate / precise date to this event, but in all likelihood the colonization of the Agatu – Ochekwu Amara (Omala) area occurred in the early part of the 17th century, and Ayegba’s arrival at Idah towards the close. This tradition is generally accepted by the present Attah ruling family at Idah.
ii. Attah Aganepoje, Idoko and Ayegba Oma’Idoko On the death of Queen Ebulejonu her brother Aganepoje was installed as the Attah Igala. When Aganepoje died, his son Idoko took his place. When Idoko died his son Ayegba Om’Idoko was installed as the Attah Igala. Attah Ayegba Om’Idoko can be regarded as the political founder of the present ruling Jukun dynasty in Igala, because the present Attah’s ruling families trace their descent from him. Again the ruling sub-
The Attah’s royal clans or families at Idah are divided into four ruling families. The institution of Attah therefore rotates within these four ruling houses. Their founders are Akogu, Ocholi, Amacho and Itodo Aduga. Their descendant are known as Aju Akogu, Aju Ocholi, Aju Acho, and Aju Itodo Aduga. But the descendants of Itodo Aduga (Aju Itodo Aduga) the descendants of Amacho (Aju Amacho) could be called Aju Aku or Aju Akumabi, because Attah Akumabi was the founder of the group before it was split into two for political reasons.
iii. The list of Igala King it is obvious, judging from the age of the Igala kingship or Attahship that the names of many Igala kings must have been forgotten or lost. For example
i. Only two names of Igala kings are recorded during the period of the Igala dynasty from about 1200 to 1450 AD.
ii. During the regime of the Benin dynasty, the only prominent Attah recorded by historians was Aji-
iii. An Igala chief (the Onupia) told Bishop Crowther during his visit to Idah in 1854 that twenty persons had taken the Attah Igala title since the office was instituted. He said that the (then) Attah Igala (Attah Amocheje) was the twentieth. This means that the present Attah Igala (His Royal Majesty Alhaji Aliyu Obaje) would be the thirty-
iv. The wars of independence The Attah of Igala was historically a vassal of the Benin and Jukun kings. In an attempt to be independent, the Attah fought two wars. The first was Igala-
a. The Igala – Benin was (1515-
i. The desire of both the Oba of Benin and the Attah of Igala to control trade along the river Niger.
ii. The fear on the part of the Oba of Benin that the northern part of his kingdom was not secure due to the expanding influences of the Attah Igala in that area.
iii. The personal friction between the Oba of Benin (Oba Esigie) and A Benin noble man (the Oliha) who wanted to overthrow the Oba.
The reigning Attah Igala at this period was called Aji Attah. He was a younger brother of Oba Esigie according to the traditions recorded by Mr. P. A Talbot, Mr. Talbot recorded that during the reign of Oba Esigie, the Igala are said to have been said to have been driven over to eastern side of the river Niger. Oba Esigie is also stated to have defeated his younger brother Aji Attah of Idah. It may be that the Idahs had been previously conquered and that the brother who had been put in charge rose against Oba Esigie.
During this war the Portuguese Christian Missionaries fought on the side of Oba Esigie. It was these missionaries who recorded the war. The Igala were defeated because the Portuguese Missionaries introduced gins and firearms. After the war, the Attah Igala secured his independence from the Oba of Benin, who now controlled the west bank of the Niger. Around this time the town of Agenebode was founded to secure the northern part of the Benin kingdom.
The Igala – Jukun war 17th century ADBetween the Igala Benin war and the Igala Jukun war, there was a gap of more than one hundred and fifty years. It should be remembered that when Queen Ebulejonu established the Jukun dynasty at Idah, Igalas once again lost their independence and became a vassal to the Jukun king, the Aku Uka. Igalas continued to pay tribute to the Aku until the reign of Attah Ayegba Om’Idoko.
As soon as Ayegba OmaIdoko was installed as the Attah Igala, he refused to pay these tributes. The continued defiance of the authority of the Aku Uka of Wukari resulted in him sending a force to bring Attah Ayegba to task. When the Jukun soldiers arrived at Idah, fear and terror gripped all Idah people. A Muslim preacher advised Attah Ayegba to sacrifice to the land spirit which he loved most to ensure the safety of his kingdom. But Attah Ayegba was not ready to accept the advice. His daughter princess Inikpi got the information and realizing the danger threatening her father’s kingdom ordered a pit to be dug at Idah waterside. She descended into the pit with her nine slaves and all were buried alive. Again the Moslem preacher scarified another woman called Odoko so as to save Attah Ayegba and his kingdom. This woman was also from the Attah’s family. Her grave is in Angwa Ayegba village Idah. A clan named after her is called ‘Omodoko’. The Moslem preacher also prepared charm that was cast into the river Inachalo. It miraculously produced a rise in the number of fish in the river, which the Jukun ate. The result of the large consumption of fish (by the Jukum) led to an outbreak of cholera in the Jukun camp. Attah Ayegba and his soldiers fell upon them and inflicted a crushing defeat.
Attah Ayegba pursued the Jukuns with his soldiers as far as the river Ochekwu about thirty kilometers west of Otukpo town. Here a truce was called and the boundaries between the Igala and Jukun kingdoms was settled. With the settlement of boundaries the Igala kingdom once more regained its independence.
Attah Ayegba vigorously pursued territorial expansion of his kingdom. Successive Attahs that did the same thing included the following: Akumabi, Akogu, Ocholi, Ameh, Ocheje and Aku Odiba. By the end of 18th century AD. The Igala kingdom had developed into a powerful state.
At the height of its power, during the reign of Attah Aku Odiba, the kingdom stretched northwards across the Niger to embrace the Lokoja, Kotonkarfe and Kakanda people. It also stretched northeast to include the Idoma country. The chiefs of Otukpo, Boju, and Adoka went to Idah to get beads of office from the Attah. The kingdom also stretched eastwards covering the whole of the old Nsukka division and to Adamagu a few kilometers north of Onitsha town. The kingdom also went westward to Ajakuta covering the whole of the Igbira country.
The administration of the kingdomSoon after the Igala Jukun war, Attah Ayegba began the reorganization of his kingdom. He reorganized the central administration, the advisory council, palace and district administration.
a. The Prime Minister
Attah Ayegba re-
b. The royal councilors
Attah Ayegba created the offices of royal councilors. These offices are hereditary within Ayegba descendants. The most senior royal councilors include the following: Amana Attah, Ochai Attah, Makoji Attah, Odoma Attah, Egene Attah, Ohiemogbolo Attah, Ekpa Attah, Inalogu Attah, Odekina Attah and Omolobu Attah.
c. The Igalamela and state advisory council Attah Ayegba re-
d. The king makers
He also re-
e. The district Administration
Attah Ayegba Appointed his son and trustworthy relatives and followers as district heads. The district heads Attah Ayegba also decentralized authority, as it was not possible to administer the whole kingdom directly from Idah at his period.
f. Palace administration In the Attah’s court there were two groups of officials; the royal servants (Amedibo) and the Attah’s eunuchs (Amonoji) who were central in the administration of the palace. The head of the Amedibo was Ogbe. There are chiefs in their own right. These palace officials performed similar functions, they protected the Attah, helped in mobilizing the people to repair houses, the palace walls and carried messages to the districts and collected tributes for the Attah. They acted as intermediaries between the Attah and his chiefs as well as his subjects, protected the Attah’s treasures, royal robes and regalia. The eunuchs protected the Attah’s wives and performed rituals for the Attah. The titled eunuchs were exclusive officers and their head the Ogbe was an important judge in the kingdom, presiding over the Attah’s court with the obligation of informing the Attah about court proceedings.
g. Women chiefs
Attah Ayegba established some chieftaincy titles for women. There are titles reserved for women from Attah’s royal family (the Attah’s sisters). There are titles also reserved for the Attah’s wives. Iye Ogbaba and Iye Dadu Akuma Attah, Iye Okponokwu, Iyya Attah, Omiya Ina, Omiya Kekele (Omiakele).
The decline and fall of Igala kingdom Around the 18th century AD the Igala Kingdom was at the height of its frame and power around the middle of the 19th century, it began to decline and in January 1900, it finally lost independence and sovereignty. Two main factors contributed to this, internal weaknesses and external forces.
a. The internal weaknesses
i. The size of the kingdom
The first internal weakness was the sheer size of the kingdom. As it grew in size, it became more difficult to keep the remote districts under proper control due to poor communications in those days.
ii. The constitution
Another internal weakness lay in the constitution. The Igala state was a loose state with the district heads in the northest exercising a kind of autonomy.
iii. The break up of Igalamela
Another internal weakness was the removal of the Igalamela chiefs from state advisory council. Attah Ameh Ocheje accused the Igalamela chiefs of assassinating his predecessor Attah Ekelaga and replaced then with royal councilors. The Igalamela chiefs who had checked the activities of oppressive Attah’s could not exercise this function after their removal from the council.
iv. The collapse of the state economy Another internal factor which weakened the kingdom and led to its decline was the collapse of the slave economy as the slave trade was an important aspect of the state economy. The Igala people traded in slaves with Europeans. In 1841, Attah Ameh Ocheje signed the treaty on the abolition of the slave trade and so the kingdom could no longer openly trade in slaves. However the igala kingdom was lucky it had alternatives produce like palm produce. This trade however took a long time to develop.
b. The external factors
The external factors which led to the decline of the igala state were the Fulani Jihad and European interventions
i. The Fulani Jihad
The Fulani jihad launched in Sokoto in 1804 reached the confluence of the Niger and Benue by 1850. In 1853 Etsu Masaba of Nupe took Koton Karfe and Lokoja, then part of the Igala kingdom. The Igbira kingdom of Panda was also destroyed.
By 1854, the Fulani had become a real threat to the kingdom, the sourthern bank became flooded with refugees. They carried out sporadic raids in Ife district. The refugees, who crossed to the Igala kingdom, begged Attah Amaga to allow them stay in the area and he agreed. These refugees include Igbira Mozum, Bassa Nge, Bassa Komo, thereby introducing a new clement into the Igala kingdom namely minority groups.
ii. The European intervention
The European intervention came in the form of commercial firms eg the Royal Niger Company. The British government gave a royal charter to this company in 1886. The charter empowered the company to do business in the Niger Benue basin. The company’s area of influence stretched from Asaba, its headquarters, to Jebba in the river Niger and Ibi on the Benue river. The company opened trading posts at Idah, Itobe, Gbobe and Bagana. Unfortunately it made unfavourable regulations that ruined the economy of the local people. The Attah of Igala’s treasury was ruined.
iii. The declaration of the protectorates of Northern and Southern Nigeria
In 1900, the British government decided to take full responsibility for the territories acquired by the royal Niger company. In January 1900, British formerly assumed a protectorate over Northern and Southern Nigeria. With the death of Attah Amaga in February 1900, the independent sovereign state of Igala came to an end.
Opposition to foreign rule Prince Akwu Agahiu, Attah Ocheje Onokpa, Adukwu Okekwu and others
a. Prince Akwu Agahiu
Prince Akwu Agahiu was the first son of the Attah Amaga who died in 1900. During his fathers reign, the royal Niger company controlled all the political and economic life of Igala people. Atta Amaga’s treasury was empty.
Prince Akwu Amaga had no alternative but to organize guerilla war fare against the European traders and the royal Nigeria company. He was a nationalist opposed to the European takeover of the political economic life of the people. He and his followers raided the royal Niger company’s stires at Idah several times and killed many European traders. He also organized guerrilla activities on the river Niger. The royal Niger Company reacted by bombarding Idah town twice between 1896 and 1900.
b. Atta Ocheje Onokpa
Attah Ocheje was installed as the Attah Igala in 1901 under the supervision of British colonial officials. After his installation he refused to believe that his predecessor Attah Amaga had surrendered his sovereignty to the British Government. He also refused to accept that his kingdom could be partitioned into northern and southern divisions. He rejected a situation where he was not given any role in the administration of his kingdom.
Despite Attah Ocheje Onokpa being a nationalist he could not rally his people to fight the British administration. This was because the British administration succeeded in isolating him from his chiefs and subjects an accused him of conspiracy and acts capable of disturbing the peace in the area. As a result the colonial administration deposed him in 1903 and banished him to Asaba where he died.
c. Adukwu Okekwu
Another Igala nationalist who opposed foreign rule was Adukwu Okekwu. He and his followers reorganized guerilla war against the British colonial administration. In march, 1903 Adukwu Okekwu launched an attack on the assistant district commissioner for Idah Mr. Boyle and his escort of about twenty men. They were on their way from Idah to the Anambra river creek (the Afa-
d. Other nationalities in Igala kingdom
Other Igala nationalities who opposed foreign rule were Odoma Okolobade (a brother to Attah Ocheje Onokpa) Ujogo Onegote (Onu Egume) Inedu Obi (Onu Ankpa), Oguche Agi (Onu Ankpa) etc. These people were suppressed by military force.
9. Opposition to the partition of the Igala Kingdom
a. Attah Oguche Akpa, Prince Atabo Ijomi and Amanabo Ogili
In 1900, the Igala kingdom was partitioned into two. The southern section which comprised the present Ofu, Igalamela / Odolu, Idah and Ibaji local government areas were made part of Onitsha province of southern Nigeria. The Northern section which comprised the present Bassa, Dekina, Omala, Ankpa and Olamaboro Local government areas were made part of Bassa Province in Northern Nigeria.
Bassa province was divided into three administrative division:
i. Dekina division comprising: Bassa Komo, Dekina and Egume districts
ii. Ankpa division comprising: Abejukolo, Imane, Ankpa and Ogugu districts
iii. Boju division comprising: Idoma, ojokwu and Agatu districts.
The colonial administration appointed alien district heads mainly Hausa to rule in the above districts. Idah the southern section of the kingdom was regarded by the government of southern Nigeria, as a district. A colonial high commissioner was appointed to rule it. Some historians were of the opinion that the Attah was just a powerful district head at that time.
b. The Igala rebellion (1916-
Attah Oguche Anpka like his predecessor Attah Oboni Akwu ruled only the southern part of his kingdom. His sphere of influence was limited to the present Ofu Igalamela/ Odolu, Idah and Ibaji Local government areas. He knew that the British Government had taken over his kingdom and there was nothing he could do about it. His main concern was to re-
Prince Atabo Ijomi and Amanabo Ogili were strong fighters and approached the priests (Atama) of the Mahionu spirit for his support. This spirit was very powerful in those days and the Atama was very influential. The Atama promised to fight on their side. With the spiritual support, Prince Atobo and Amanabo Ogili planned their strategies together and waited for an opportunity to strike.
In January 1916, Chief Ahmadu (Dekina district head) decided to make a trip to Idah town. There were rumours that he wanted to overthrow the Attah Igala. He began his journey from Dekina to Abocho. As soon as he crossed the Dekina division boundary into the Idah division near the Ugbabo Ochadamu area, Igala militia, selected and armed by Prince Atabo and Amanabo Ogili ambushed chief Ahmadu and his escort. Chief Ahmadu was killed. This marked the beginning of the Igala rebellion (1916-
The militia went to Dekina through Abocho and burnt down the place of Chief Ahmadu. The rebellion spread from Dekina to Egume and to other parts of Ankpa division.
It was difficult for the colonial administration to stop the rebellion and were advised to get in touch with Prince Atabo Ijomi. Prince Atabo was arrested and brought before the colonial divisional officer in Dekina. After interrogating him the high commissioner established that he could be used to bring peace. He was therefore asked to go from village to village informing people to end the fighting. He did so and the Igala people obeyed him, bringing rebellion to an end in 1917.
c. The reunification of the Igala kingdom and the creation of the Igala Native Authority 1918.
i. The re-
The colonial administration investigated the causes of the rebellion and found out that one of its causes was the partition of the Igala kingdom into Northern and Southern divisions. The investigators therefore recommended that the kingdom be reunited under the authority of the Attah of Igala. The colonial administration accepted the recommendation because it would help the indirect rule system or native authority system to function well in Igalaland.
In 1918 Sir Richard Palmer (Governor of Northern Provinces) made representations that resulted in boundary adjustment and the reunification of the kingdom.
ii. The creation of Igala Native Authority The Igala Native Authority was created in 1918 and Attah Oguche Akpa was asked to form a council. The Attah’s authority was again restored to him. The Attah and his chiefs governed under modern conditions and advised by colonial divisional officers. The Attah’s councils (1918-
Amanata Inalogu Attah Omolobu Attah
Egeunata Makoji Attah Ohiemi-
Ekpa Attah Odomata Ohioma Akuge
iii. The creation of districts 1918
One of the first things Attah Oguche Apka did in 1918 was to create districts. Idah division. In Idah division (where districts were and hitherto created because the area was in southern Nigeria), Attah Oguche Akpa and his council created the following districts: Idah waterside, Ibaji, Odolu, Ojoko (now Igalamela) and Amata (now Ugwolawo), Itobe district was carved out of Ugwolawo, Igalaogba district carved out of Egume district by Attah Obaje Ocheje in 1930.
Dekina division: In addition to the districts created by the colonial administration eg. Dekina, Bassa, Komo, and Egume, Attah Oguche Akpa created Biraidu, Mozum and Bassa Nge districts.
Ankpa division: As well as the district created by the colonial administration namely, Ankpa, Abejukolo, Ogugu and Imane, Attah Oguche Akpa creatdd Enjema and Olomaboro districts. He also claimed back Ojokwu district from Boju division.
Appointment of district heads
Attah Oguche Akpa appointed district heads to head the newly created districts. The alien Hausa district – heads appointed in Dekina and Ankpa divisions were allowed to serve under Attah Oguche Akpa. It was during the reign of Attah Oguche Akpa that many communities were created as Gago areas. As a result the community heads were appointed as Gagos by the Igala Native Authority.
10. Short notes about some Attah’s of Igala
a. Attah Ayegba Omidoki
The importance of Attah Ayegba Omidoko in Igala history is that he won for the Igala an independent kingdom. They were at one time vassals of Aku Uka or Wukari. During his reign he declared the Igala kingdom an independent state, and defeated the Jukun force that was sent by the AKu Uka to discipline him.
After the Igala-
b. Atta Akumabi Ayegba (2nd Atta from Ayegba)
Akumabi was the first son of Attah Ayegba Omidoko. During the reign of Attah Ayegba, Akumabi was one of the royal councilors in his father’s council. His father gave him the chieftaincy title of Amanata. He was the first person to be given the Amanata chieftaincy title. When his father died, he succeeded him. He was blessed with all the organizational and administrative qualities of his father and maintained the existing boundaries of his kingdom as settled by his father Ayegba. He made no further conquests.
c. Atta Akogbu Ayegba (3rd Atta from Ayegba)
Attah Ayegba Omidoko gave his son the royal chieftaincy title of Odomata, the first person to take this title. As a result he was a member of Attah Ayegba’s council. When his brother Attah Akumobi died he succeeded him. He was the third Attah of Igala from Ayegba Omidoko and continued with the policy of his elder brother Akumabi. He too made no further conquests, rather a man of peace who ruled his people justly. d. Attah Ohiemi Obogo (Ocholi Ayegba) 4th Attah Igala from Ayegba
His father Attah Ayegba Omidoko gave him the royal chieftaincy title of Makoji Attah, and the first person to take this chieftaincy title. He served in his father’s council as a royal councilor. When his brother Atta Akogu died he succeeded him. He was a fighter, a war leader and moved the frontiers of his kingdom eastwards and southwards to Igboland. He was a vibrant, open minded and disciplined ruler. e. Attah Amacho and Attah Itodo Aduga The above named Attahs were brothers and sons of Attah Akumabi, Amacho was the first son. When it was the turn of the Attah Igala after the death of Attah Ohiemi Obogo (Ocholi), Prince Amacho was chosen. Unfortunately Amacho died after his installation. The Attah Igala ruling houses and the king makers then met and asked his younger brother prince Itodo Aduga to replace him. Since then the children of Amacho and Itodo Aduga formed separate lineage with succession to the throne of the Attah Igala together with the children of Ocholi and Akogu lineages. f. Attah Ekelaga (Circa 1824-
ii. He was the first Attah Igala to be assassinated. He was assassinated by the palace eunuchs and the kingmakers headed by the Achadu Abutu Ejigbo. The reason given was he was tyrant, and that his reign was too long.
g. Attah Omocheje (Circa 1840-
Attah Amocheje was the first Attah to attack the previleges of the kingmakers, believing that they were responsible for the assassination of his predecessor, Attah Ekelaga. He removed all of them except the Achadu from the Attah’s advisory council. As a result, the status of the kingmakers declined. He replaced the kingmakers in the council with royal councilors, and as a result the status of the royal councilors increased.
It was during the reign of Attah Amocheje that the famous 1841 Niger expedition reached Idah town. The captain of the ship (Captain Trotter) and his men went to Attah’s palace to present him with gifts from the Queen. After long negotiations, the abolition treaty was signed by Attah Amocheje. Attah Amocheje also ceded a piece of land near the confluence, the area covering the present day Lokoja and Ajaokuta to the British Government for a model farm. He received seven hundred thousand cowries.
h. Atta Aku Odiba (Circa 1859-
It was during the reign of Attah Akwu Odiba that the Igala kingdom reached its greatest height and fame. The kingdom stretched southeast to Nsukka, and Onitsha, northeast to Oturkpo and Igumale, northeast to Lokoja and Koton Karfe.
It was during his reign that European traders and companies became active on the river Niger. It was also during his reign that Dr. William Baike founded Lokoja town in 1860. This led to the establishment of the great lokoja market in 1860, the market that was the greatest in the central part of Nigeria.
i. Atta Okoliko Onuche (Circa 1863-
Attah Okoliko’s reign saw the collapse of the state economy which was partly based on the slave trade. Attah Amocheje had signed the abolition treat in 1841, so Attah Okoliko could no longer openly trade in slaves.
The Fulani jihad reached the confluence of the Niger and Benue. During the reign of Attah Okoliko. The Fulani destroyed the kingdom of Panda which was allied to the Attah Igala. At the same time the Fulani founded the Emirate of Nassarawa. As a result of the Fulani raids, the Igbira, Bassa Komo and Bassa Nge began entering the northern part of the Igala kingdom by crossing the river Benue. They came on friendly terms and Attah Okoliko allowed them to stay.
During the reign of Attah Okoliko, the European traders actively traded on the Niger. The royal treasury and the economy were in shambles as the Attah and his chiefs no longer had the monopoly of the European trade.
j. Atta Amaga (Crica 1884-
Attah Amaga took the Attah Igala’s throne when Attah Okoliko died. He also inherited Attah okoliko’s problems. These included the Fulani jihad and the activities of the European traders on the Niger.
As a result of the Fulani raids in the confluence of the Niger and Benue, Bassa Komo, Bassa Nge and Igbira refugees poured into Igalaland in thousands. Attah Amaga could not enforce his authority in the northern part of the kingdom.
In 1886 Tubman Goldie was granted a charter by the British Government to establish the royal Niger company. The company was empowered to govern, keep order, and protect the territories of chiefs with whom it had concluded treaties. The company greatly weakened the position of Attah Amaga, and people were dissatisfied. This gave rise to guerilla warfare on the Niger. As the situation got worse, a royal Niger company ship bombarded Idah town in 1896.
On 1st of January 1900, the British Government decided to take over the administration of the country, and declared the protectorates of Northern and Southern Nigeria. Attah Amaga died in February 1900. His death marked the end of the independent Igala Kingdom.
k. Atta Ocheje Onokpa 1901-
Attah Ocheje Onokpa ascended the throne as Attah Igala in August, 1901. He was installed under the supervision of a British Colonial Officer Mr. Charles Partridge.
The importance of Ocheje Onokpa in Igala history is his opposition to British rule and the division of his kingdom into two. For example government areas were made part of Onitsha province of southern nigeri. While the present Dekina, Bassa, Omala, ANkpa and Olomaboro Local Government Areas were made part of Bassa Province of Northern Nigeria. Attah Ocheje Onokpa was not satisfied with the whole situation. The government of southern nigeria fearing an Igala rebellion accused him of an act likely to disturb the peace. As a result, he was deposed and banished to Asaba. He was the first Attah Igala to be deposed.
l. Atta Oboni Akwu (1905-
Attah Oboni Akwu was installed the Attah Igala in 1905 after a two year quarrel about who should succeed the deposed Attah (Ocheje Onokpa). Ocheje Onokpa’s brother Akwu Enede seized the throne by force. The British colonial administration after an investigation approved the appointment of Oboni Akwu as the new Attah Igala.
Like his predecessors, Attah Oboni’s influence never went beyond the present Ofu Local Government Area. Attah Oboni knew where the real source of power lay and therefore ruled according to the wishes of the colonial administration.
It was during the reign of Attah Oboni Akwu that the famous government school was opened at idah in 1908, Idah prison was also opened the same year. The construction of the Idah – Nsukka road was begun during his reign. He died in 1911.
m. Atta Oguche Akpa (1911-
Like his predecessor Attah Oboni Akwu, Atta Oguche Akpa’s influence was limited to the present Ofu, Igalamela / Odolu Idah and Ibaji Local Government Areas. He did not like this situation.
The importance of Attah Oguche Akpa in Igala history was that he planned and executed the Igala rebellion of 1916-
The result of the rebellion was the reunification of the Igala kingdom in 1918, and the creation of Igala Native Authority later the same year. Attah Oguche Akpa was the first Attah Igala to rule the Igala kingdom after the reunification. He appointed Prince Atabo Ijomi as the first district head of Ugwulawo to reward him for his role during the Igala rebellion of 1916-
Attah Obaje Ocheje ascended the throne of Attah Igala in 1926. During his reign, in 1929, the Igala native authority system was reorganized. This was the first reorganization since its creation in 1918. The most important aspect of the reorganization was the abolition of the office of the headman. The headman were the alien or hausa district heads appointed by the colonial administration with the wrong notion that hausa were better than the Igala traditional rulers. As a result of this reorganization the services of these were terminated. Attah Obaje Ocheje was asked to give back the office of district heads to the traditional rulers and he gladly did so.
In 1932 Attah Obaje Ocheje was asked to visit the northern provinces of Nigeria and their headquarters in Kaduna. He visited Kaduna, Zaria, Kano, Katsina. The aim of this invitation was to introduce him to the latest administrative and educational developments in northern Nigeria. He was the first Attah Igala to carry out such extensive tours. During his reign some roads became negotiable by car and he was the first Attah to own a car. He toured Igalaland to meet his people.
By the end of his reign the Second World War had started, and the subsequent economic depression affected Igalaland. It was during his reign that the European Christian missionaries entered Igalaland. He gave them all the necessary cooperation and asked his chiefs to do the same but he warned them not to cause division amongst his people. He died in 1945. o. Atta Ameh Oboni 1946-
Attah Ameh Oboni was installed as the Attah Igala in 1946. He came to the throne at the end of the second world war and the resultant economic boom affected the Igala kingdom.
He continued the work of his predecessors in mobilizing his district and village heads for road construction. Although, Attah Ameh had only little formal education. He expanded the Igala Native Authority Schools. He encouraged them to established primary schools in his kingdom. He also expanded the Igala native Authority dispensaries to all districts headquarters.
Despite Attah Ameh’s popularity among the masses his rule ran into several crises and these rises led to his deposition. Firstly, the government of northern Nigeria ordered that the Igala Native Authority be reorganized in 1843. This was during the reign of Attah Obaje Ocheje. It was recommended that the offices of districts heads and supervisory councilors be put on a professional basis. The recommendation was approved by the governor. But the recommendations could not be implemented because Attah Obaje Ocheje was ill.
As soon as Attah Ameh Oboni took office he was asked to implement the recommendations. He removed from offices all the royal councilors who were supervisory councilors under the native authority. He also removed all illiterate district heads from offices. He then replaced all of them with literate Igala native authority staff.
This was the beginning of Attah Ameh’s problems. The deposed royal councilors and district heads combined against him. They said that it was Attah Ameh who deposed them and not the government. Secondly, in 1956, allegations of human sacrifices were made against Attah Ameh but after police investigations in April 1955, the accusations were found to be untrue.
Thirdly in 1954, the northern Nigerian house of assembly passed a law to reorganize all the native authority system in the north. This law introduced democratically elected councils (wokilis) into the native authority system. Attah Ameh was first Attah to work with the democratically elected councilors (wokilis) in 1954. But unfortunately the Attah could not adjust to the power shift or power sharing with the elected councilors and he quarreled with them most of the time.
Fourthly, in 1956, the Egwu and Ocho national festivals at Idah were abolished by the government on the recommendations of the Igala native authority council. The earlier allegations that Attah Ameh made human sacrifices at these festivals contributed to the abolition of these festivals. He was deposed in 1856 because the councilors gave him vote of no confidence. p. Atta Aliyu Ocheje Obaje (1956 to date) (The 21st Attah Igala from Attah Ayegba) Attah Aliyu Ocheje Obaje attended Idah government school, Dekina Elementary School and Okene Middle School. He also attended teachers college at Ibadan and the clerical training college, zaria.
On 2nd November 1956, he was installed the Attah of Igala. Thus he became the first literate Attah Igala. He is also the first Attah Igala to become a moslem. He is the first Attah Igala to reign for fifty years (1956-