Monday, December 10, 2012

Short Notes on Past Attahs of Igala Land


 1. Atta Ayegba Om'Idoko
The importance of Attah Ayegba Om Idoko in Igala history is that he won an independent kingdom. They were at one time vassals of the Aku Uka of Wukari. During his reign he declared the Igala ingdom an independent state, and defeated the Jukun force that was sent by the Aku Uka to discipline him. Attah Ayegba is the founder of the present Attah's ruling dynasty. 
2. Atta Akumabi Ayegba (2nd Atta from Ayegba)
Akumabi was the first son of Attah Ayegba Om' Idoko during the reign of Attah Ayegba, Akumabi was one of the Royal councillors 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 organisational and administrative qualities of his father and maintained the existing boundaries of his kingdom as settled by his father Ayegba. He made no further conquest.


3. Atta Akogbu Ayegba (3rd Atta from Ayegba)
Attah Ayegba Om' Idoko gave his son Royal Chieftaincy tittle of Odomata, the first person to take this title. Whe his brother Attah Akumabi died he succeded him. He was the third Attah of Igala from Ayegba Om' Idoko and continued with the policy of his elder brother Akumabi. He too made no further conquest, rather a man of peace who ruled his people justly.

4. Atta Ohiemi Obogo (Ocholi Ayegba) 4th Attah Igala from Ayegba
His father Attah Ayegba Om' Idoko gave him the royal chieftaincy title of Makoji Attah, and the first person to take this chieftaincy title. When his brother Akogu died he succeeded him. He was a fighter, a war leader and moved the frontiers of his kingdom eastwards and southwards to Igbo land. He was a vibrant, open minded and disciplined ruler.

5. ATTA AMACHO AND ATTA ITODO ADUGA
The above named Attahs were brothers and sons of Attah Akumabi, Amacho was first son. When it was the turn of Akumabi lineage to produce a candidate for the office 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 rulling houses and kingmakers then met and asked his younger brother Prince Itodo Aduga to replace him. Since then the children of Amacho and Itodo Aduga formed separate lineages with sucesion to the throne of the Attah Igala, together with the children of Ocholi and Akogu lineage.

6. ATTA EKELEGA (CIRCA 1824-1839) (11TH Atta Igala from Ocholi Akogu)
There are two important events to note about the reign of Atah Ekelaga. These were:
1.       He was the first Attah Igala to come in contact with the Europeans. In 1832 the leader os the Niger expedition (Mac Gregor Laird, Richard Hander and Dr Old Field) met Attah Ekelega in Idah. The leaders of the expedition prepared a draft treaty concerning cessation of Lokoja to Britain and the abolition of the slave trade. The treaty was not signed because Richard Lander died in Fernado PO.
2.       He was the the first Attah Igala to be assassinated. He was assisnated by the palace eunuchs and the kingmakers headed by the Achadu Abutu Ejigbo. The reason given was that he was a tyrant and that his reign was too long.

7. Atta Amocheje (Circa 1840-1858) (The 12th Atta Igala from Itodo Aduka Akumabi)
Attah Amocheje was the first Attah to attack the privileges of the kingmakers, believing that they were responsible for the assassination of his predecessor, Atta Ekelaga. He removed all of them except the Achadu from the Attah’s Advisory Council. As a result, the status of kingmakers declined. He replaced the kingmakers in the council with Royal Councillors, and as a result the status of the Royal councillors increased. It was during the reign of Attah Amocheje that the famous 1841 Niger Expeditin reached Idah town. The Captain of the ship (Captain Trptter) and his men went to Attah’s palace to present him gift from the Queen. After long negotiation, 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.   

8. Atta Akwu Odiba (Circa 1859 – 1962) (The 13th Atta Igala from Ocholi Ayegba)
It was during the reign of Attah Akwu Odiba that the Igala kingdom reached its greatest height and fame. The kingdom stretched southwest to Nsukka and Onitsha , northwest to Oturkpo and Igumale, northeast to Lokoja and Koton karfe. It was during his reign that europen 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 .

9. Atta Okoliko Onuche (Circa 1863 – 1882) (The 12th Atta Igala from Amacho Akumabi  Ayegba)
The importance of Attah Okoliko Onuche’s reign in Igala history is that it marked the beginning of the decline of the Igala state. During the reign of Attah Okoliko, the European traders actively traded on the Niger . The Royal treasury and the economy were I shambles as the Attah and his chiefs no longer had the monopoly of the European trade because Amocheje had signed the abolition treat in 1841.

10. Atta Amaga (Circa 1884 -1900) (The 15th Attah from Akogu Ayegba)
Attah Amaga took Attah Igala’s throne when Attah Okoliko died. He also inherited Attah Okoliko’s problem. 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 refuges poured into Igalaland in thousands. Attah Amaga could not enforce his authority in the northern part of the Kingdom.

11. Atta Ocheje Onokpa 1901 – 1903 (The 16th Atta from Itodo Aduga Akumabi Ayegba)
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 Parrtridge. The importance of Ocheja Onokpa in Igala history is his opposition to British rule and the division of his kingdom into two. For example the present Ofu, Igalamela/Odolu, Idah and Ibaji local Government Areas were made part of Onitsha provinc of southern Nigerian. While the present Dekina, Bassa, Omala, Ankpa and Olamaboro local Government areas were made part of bassa province of Northern Nigeria . Attah Ocehja 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 disposed and banished to Asaba. He was the first Attah Igala to be deposed.  
12. Atta Oboni Akwu (1905 – 1911) (The 17th Attah from Ocholi Ayegba)
Attah Oboni Akwu was installed the Attah Igala in 1905 after about a two year quarrel about who should succeed the deposed Attah (Ocheja Onokpa). Ocheja 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 predecessor, Attah Oboni’s influence never went beyond the present Ofu Local Government Area. Attah Oboni knew where the real sources 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 the same year. The construction of the Idah – Nsukka road was begun during his reign. He died in 1911.

13. Attah Oguche Akpa (1911 – 1919) (The 18th Attah from Attah Amacho Akumabi Ayegba)
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 Igala rebellion of 1916 – 1917. He did this from a distance as he feard the colonial officers. This rebellion is sometimes called the Mahionu war. Attah Oguche Akpa organised the rebellion with the co operation of prince Atabo Ijomi, (who succeeded him as the Attah Igala in 1919), Amanabo Ogili, (who later became the Amanata during the reign of Obaje Ocheja), and the chief priest of Mahionu spirit. 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 Ugwolawo to reward him for his role during the Igala rebellion of 1916 – 1917. He created districts and gogo areas in the kingdom. He died in 1919.

14. Atta Obaje Ocheje (1926 – 1945) (The 19th Attah from Itodo Aduga Akumabi Ayegba)
Attah Obaje Ocheja ascended the throne of Attah Igala in 1926.  During his reign, in 1926, the Igala Native Authority system was recognised. This was the first reorganisation since its creation in 1918. The most important aspect of the reorganisation wa the abolition of the office of the headman. The headmen were the alien or Hausa District heads appinted by the colonial administration with the wrong notion that Hausa were better than the Igala Traditional rulers. As a result of this reorganisation the services of these were terminated. Attah Obaje Ocheja was asked to give back the office of District heads to the traditional rulers and he gladly did so. In 1932 Attah Obaje Ocheja was asked to visit the Northern provinces of Nigeria and their headquaters in Kaduna . He visited Kadun, Zaria , Kano and 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 of 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 ear 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 co operation and asked his chiefs to do the same but he warned them not to cause division amongst his people. He died in 1945.

15. Attah Ameh Oboni (1946 – 1956) (The 20th Attah Igala from Ocholi Ayegba)
Attah Ameh Oboni was installed as the Attah of 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 predecessor 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 establish 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 crises led to his deposition.   

16. Attah Aliyu Obaje (1956 – 2012) (The 21st Attah Igala from Itodo Aduga Akumabi Ayegba)
The death of His Royal Majesty, Attah Ameh Oboni on 26th June, 1956 was a shock to all Igala nation. His death created problems for the Atta Igala Rulling families, the Igala Native Authority Council and the British Colonial Administration. On receiving the official report of the death of his royal Majesty Atta Ameh Oboni from the British Colonial Divisional Officer, Mr D. J Muffet, in charge of the Igala Divisoon, The British colonial Administration in Kaduna made the following policy statement on the office of Atta Igala. The statement said “Any person wishing to take the office of the Atta Igala must belong to the Atta Igala Rulling family and must be literate so as to give his people good leadership in this mdern era. The installation ceremony of Prince Aliyu Ocheja Obaje as the Atta of Igala took place on the 2nd November 1956 in the qua Iboe Mission Primary School Field at Idah.

P.E Okwoli
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