BRIEF HOSTORY OF IGU (KOTON-KARFE)
By Abu Michael
One cannot trace the history of Igu kingdom without reference to its migration, earlier settlements that were temporary but actually paved way for the establishment of Igu and Opanda kingdoms and later formation of other Egbura splinter groups. However, this is our Tale as handed over to us through oral history from one generation to another.
Consequent upon above, actual dates or reports of sequence of events might not be accurately portrayed. However, our origin is Middle Eastern precisely, Yemen in the Arabian Peninsula about 340AD where we left with other ethic nationalities of Old Kwararafa kingdom.
Our ancestry is Kwarafa, which is a conglomeration of many ethic nationalities federating as a unit. Our ancestry is Wukari the capital of Old Kwarafa kingdom. When the fortunes of the Kwararafa kingdom began to decline, the Ebguras under their leader ABUTU-EJEH migrated to Idah. When the stool of Attah Idah became vacant, Ohime-Ozi Egye contested for the stool of Attah Idah and lost to a junior person. Not satisfied with the outcome left with his family, relations and supporters taking the Omu (house tail), crossing the Benue at about 1750. He settled first at ONYOKA, a hilly settlement top present ogba Town in Nassarawa State.
The settlement blossomed for some years until the outbreak of an epidemic that appeared like small pox. As a result of the outbreak of this disease, another migration was embarked in search of a more suitable place. OKAMGBO was the next settlement and for some years, these places flourish and attract more inhabitants through either warfare or submission to the rule of OHEMI. Thereafter, he crossed the ORUDU River to a more suitable area called IGU-UGBAKA. The size of his followers or entourage can be seen by the large remnants of ruins of about some kilometers around IKIME close to Koton-Karfe in Kogi State.
At this particular time with his large followership, he assumed formally the title of OHIMEGYE. At this period he has three children, namely Iyanka (Female) Ohetenye (Male) and Owutu (Male).
To administer firm control over his kingdom, he introduced taxation, payment of tributes. Villages along the River areas made to contribute baskets of fishes on the rising of the river and similar amount on its fall including palm oil and loads of grains per village. Failure to comply was met with severe penalties. At IG-GBAKA he became old, died, and was buried there on the hills of IKIME. According to some legends, IYANKA was OHEMI’s daughter named after ONYOKA the first settlement while others hold a contrary view about her actual biological relationship with him. His two sons are OHETENYE and OWOTU while ODA-RIKO is one of his identified brothers.
Succession became a problem, IYANKA was alleged to have contested for the stool on behalf of his son OHEMI NEGEDU against claims of his brothers and uncles. The overbearing influence of this woman cannot be underestimated so the tale of her being a distant stranger wielding a lot of influence to me is a discredit to her root. What is of paramount importance is the fact that her challenge caused succession upheaval according to some legends lasted for about three months while to others it was three years or more calumniating in her defeat and setting up settlement around Adingere before eventually moving back to re-occupy OPANDA for the second time. It should be noted that this interregnum brought about untold hardship to the people as it led to cessation of social and economic activities, farming especially suffered, as people could not go to their farms. Eventually when her group was defeated, at OPANDA OHEMI NEGEDU became the OHIMEGYE with a matrimonial lineage to OHIME-OZI-EHYE.
According to one legend, one ODARIKO identified as a sibling to OHEMI decline ascending the throne as a result of old age after the death of his brother. He nominated OHETENYE who at the time was already displaying good
leadership qualities and worn some admiration and support of his kinsmen. This was opposed by one OHGYEKPA and IYANKA. Eventually, at Igu-Ugbaka OHIME took the title of OHIMEGYE-IGU. This is however not a strange situation.
Legend also ssaid OHETENYE on assumption of OHIMEGYE at IGU-GBAKA withdrew west of SHIDDEM and then crossed the hills to GIRINYA and founded the town on the summit of a low but defensible hill over hanging Gurara River. He built a double belt of walls around the tow to fortify it against external attacks. OHETENYE married a woman from OKPAKA who bore him a son called OHEMI-DUNIYA who is believed to be a reincarnation of OHEMI-OZI-EGYE. He grew upon to be a very fearless warrior and hunter.
FOUNDATION OF IGU KOTON-KARFE KINGDOM BY OHEMI-DUNIYA AND OWUTU
OHEMI-DUNIYA is the re-incarnation of OHEMI-OZI-EGYE according to legends. It is a belief that when OHEMI-OZI-EGYE was dying he reassured his people that when he dies and reincarnates he is going to conquer the whole world hence the name OHEM-DUNIYA. He was gotten from the marriage OHEM-OZI-EGYE contracted at Okpaka on arrival at Girinya. He was restless energetic fearless fighter who assisted his father in warfare raiding and waging wars against aggressors. On one of his visit to Okpaka he discovered the beautiful site of IGU with its water flowing down the hills (OSI IGU) and its rich fertile land with an enclosing forest and hills. He buried a sword into the soil for purpose of identification and a sign indicating he has found a suitable place for a final settlement. The site is the old IGU where Odaki Clan has its OTAKUKYABA shrine around the OKPATETE stream. It is also the site where the old Odaki Clan resided and now known as OKATITI.
OWUTU, the younger brother of OHEMI-OZI-EGYE before he became the second OHIMEGYE at igu was on fishing expedition from Girinya, settled at Edeha where he also discovered the scenic attration of IGU and thus advise his brother to relocate his administrative headquarters to present IGU, Koton-Karfe.
Through the prowess of activities of OWUTU and OHEM-DUNIYA neighboring tribes began to give special reckoning to Igu kingdom expansionist policy. The then Attah Idah sent to OHIMEGYE OHETENYE to allow his son OHEMI DUNIYA to visit him at Idah. It was while on this visit that he died at Idah. He was buried at OKPAKA where his mother was also buried. This site became a commentary where all OHIMEGYES of Odaki extraction were buried including Ondakogbanis and some high ranking title holders of Odaki extraction ostensibly because of ONDASI (Oyonwa). The death of OHEMI DUNIYA was a master plan orchestrated to whittle down the expanding prowess of Igu kingdom through this great son of OHETENYE. His death under suspicious circumstances confirmed the fears of his father who was reluctant in allowing him proceed on this state visit.
Prior to the permanent relocation to Igu, it will be however interesting to Note that in the history of most ethic nationalities there were periods of migrations, integration, disintegration, warfare in defense and expansion of kingdoms until finally when there are no longer movement. To sustain these achievements after conquering and establishing the kingdom early OHIMEGYES intensified efforts at various times to consolidating these gains. At the early stages of the existence of Igu kingdom, the authority of the OHIMEGYE extended up to the plateau of AGBAJA across the River Niger and along the northern fringe very close to NASSARAWA town while the North of River Benue is left for Idah. It is very interesting to also note that IGU and OPANDA kingdoms have flourished side by side without any form of animosity with one another. Supporting and defending one another. The strategic location of these kingdoms with its proximity to Rivers Niger and Benue made it more accessible to explores and exploiters especially slave traders. OHETENYE had to be on the defensive against invaders. This afforded us certain opportunities that assisted in strengthening our existence as a race. But sometimes, it became a weakness
as the water ways made invasion very easy.
Apart from these early settlers, some later Egbura settlers arrived after the formation of Igu kingdom either as fishermen along the swamps of the River Niger, Benue and Gurara while other on hunting in the open fields in the northern fringe some quickly acknowledge the authority of the Ohimegye while others have to be subjected to war before submission.
All later settlers whether of Egbura, Bassa, Nupe, Gwari, Ganagana extraction etc were made to seek the consent of the Ohimegye before they were allowed to settle and farm. The Bassas for instance did and were granted the country side of IKIME, OHIMEGYE OHETENYE made series of incursions into OWORO land and defeating them at OTUBE not too far from AGBAJA. All settlers paid some taxes in form of tributes to the Ohimegye and periodically too paid homage. OHIMEGYE Ohetenye died in Koton-Karfe but was buried in Girinya his grave is at the wood market. He was succeeded by his brother OWUTU who became the first Ohimegye Igu at Igu, Koton-Karfe. The new Administrative and Spiritual HJeadquartres. Abaji was a very peaceful place until the reign of Ohimegye Onyaku when Ozotu was sent to reduce it to subjugation. The Ohimegye’s authority extended beyond Abaji close to Nassarawa. Under the reign of Ohimegye Usmangwe there was a fight with some Gwaris of Robomi village. There were little traces of internal insurrections and external invasions that were immediately brought under control. Some turbulent periods that are of historical significance are the external aggression or incursion by slave traders, Fulani jihadist with Bida kingdom expansionist policy led by Masaba.
There was information of a pending attack from Bida under Ohimegye Usmangwe at Girinya axis all mobilization was done to defend the kingdom unitl it turned out to be a rumour. But the actual attack took place at Kpareke some few kilometers to Koton-Karfe (IGU) which took the kingdom by asurprise. The people of Okpareke resisted for about two days, this resistance made Masaba to change direction towards Umaisha (Oherehu). Consequent upn this Masaba did not trouble Igu kingdom again.
However, after the death of Ohimegye Usmangwe another Bida invasion followed this time for real, it was led by Ndako Damisa. This time around the invading army came through the flank of the Bank of River Niger crossing at a point near Banda and Esikatu. The army of Igu kingdom came to the aid of these areas, forcing Ndako Masaba to retreat to Ette. When Ohimegye Adegbe ascended the throne Ndako Masaba invaded again through Kpareke the Igu army resisted fiercely forcing him to make another retreat. This retreat was deceitful as they took another flank taking the inhabitants by surprise forcing the inhabitants to retire into the forest to begin a form Gorilla warfare using the Akuki masquerade to scare away the invaders from making a complete take over of reign of the kingdom Ohimegye Adegbe died at Ahoko.
Equally of importance is the Bassa conspiracy at Okete market that placed 20% on Egbura cowries. Ongyehu rallied the support of the Egburas to resist the rebellion because Masaba’s son Mamudu had assisted them in conducting the raid on Ikime and surroundings of Oshere valley. The final onslaught before the British eventually defeated Bida was by Benu this brought respite to Igu kingdom.
The name Koton-Karfe was given by the Hausas which signifies strength of the Egburas or the Arrows of the Egburas as the real strength of the Egburas is in their weapon which is crafted from Iron Ore found abundantly in the kingdom. Akpoto, pronounced Kwato or koto is derived from a mistaken likeness of the Egburas to Akpoto on their first encounter with the Egburas hence Kwato Mai Karfe or Karfi (Iron Ore or strength).
When Ohimegye Ohetenye died, his body was buried in GIRINYA, His grave is at the old wood market of Girinya. The fact that his grave cannot be left uncared for, one of his aids and title holder of Okpambana (Okoro) was detailed to remain behind to look after the Gerinya. Ohetenye before he died div
ided Igu, the headquarter of the kingdom into two wards namely ODAKI and OKWO. Odaki headed by Ohetenye while Okwo is headed by Owutu his younger brother. This was made to avert the succession tussles as witnessed at Igu-Ugbaka that automatically alternates within these two wards. This rotational principle had given the eight ruling house equal sense of belonging and fair share of producing an Ohimegye. This had also reduced the tension of choosing an Ohimegye within the kingdom.
ODAKI and Ukwo wards are further subdivided into eight ruling houses with each ward having four ruling houses as can be seen in the table below:-
ANGUWAS/WARDS AND LEADERS
ODAKI OKWO headed by
Headed by Ohimegye Ohimegye Owutu younger
ODAKI OKPOKPOZI ONKYAKU ODARIKO ONYAKWU ODOH OKORIKO EBE
There are eight ruling houses in Igu kingdom succession is automatic based on existing rotational principle enumerated above. If no suitable candidate is found, a member of the next branch next in line can be chosen. Unlike other kingdoms no title is earmarked or specially kept for Would be Ohimegye Igu. But there are title holders who assist in running the kingdom. All the ruling houses are represented in the council. Four king makers, Ondakaogbani, Ohimoziogbani, Ogazaogbani and Asanyaogbani merely perform ceremonial function in course of selection. It is the ruling house whose turn is to produce the next Ohimegye that has the major task of selecting a qualified and an acceptable candidate for the throne. Most of the titles are meant for particular wards or Ruling Houses but at the discretion of the Ohimegye. What is important is a fair and equitable representation of all ruling houses. In the course of vacant title only the Ohimegye has the sle authority to fill it either by promoting any other title holder or a fresh appointment to fill the vacancy. Succession is matrilineal according to our custom and tradition.
List of OHIMEGE IGU SINCE INCEPTION
2nd OHETENYE 3rd OWUTU
4th OGAKU 5th UMAN
6th ABUTU 7th OGUMAZI
8th OHIMORO 9th ONYAKWU
10th OZOTU 11th ODOHO
12th EKUDIMISHI 13th AKOZA
14th ONKAYAKU15th UMARU
16th OGUDABA 17th USMANGWE
18th ADEGBE 19th OHIMOZI/ONGYEHU
20th ALI (1897 -1913) 21st MANMAN SEKPA
22nd ABDU AGUYE (1941 -1970) 23rd ALHAJI SHAIBU MANMAN
24TH ALHAJI ABDULRAZAQ SANI LAFIAYA (1970 – 2012)
GAMBO ISAKOTO (2102 -)
THE TITLE (ISOGBA)
Ohimegye is derived from the word OHIME-OZI-EGYE meaning OHIME-SON OF EGYE. Thus Ohimegye is an Egbura word and is the title or the paramount Ruler of Igu Koton-Karfe Kingdom. The Ohimegye is the Chief Custodian of all the culture, tradition and custom of Egbura nation whether at home or in Diaspora. The Ohimegy also has consenting authority over all land, titles of Igu Kingdom. The selection and appointment of village Chiefs (Ohinoyis) no matter their status or grade to be done with the consent of the Ohimegye who must be informed of the death of Ohinoyis or chiefs in the first instance. Final installation of any new chief or Ohinoyi must be done with the consent of the Ohimegye who in turn must inform the State Government in the case of graded chief.
It I also important to stress the whoever hold these titles of Ohinoyis (Chiefs) or occupies any part of the land belonging to Igu Kingdom does so in trust for the Ohimegye.
SALUTATION: AGABA IDU (WOLF AND LION)
The traditional Egbura greetin for Ohimegye is AGABA IDU meaning AGABA (WOLF) while IDU is (LION). The weirdest animal in the world is LION and is also referred to as the king of the Jungle, while WOLF is the second in line. So, what salutation would you say? But in all honesty AGABA IDU is an Egbura word.
The salutation is done either standing or kneeling with the two arms raised as a form of respect and allegiance to the throne of Ohimegye. This is complimented by a beautiful parade led by the Osezeogbani group like in a military parade three times in unison with their hands raised up with Osezeogbani commanding. This is a formal salutation. It is always a ver
y remarkable spectacle to behold. These Osezeogbani title holders must first remove their caps if they are wearing one hold it with one hand while the other hand is raised with the fist folded like the black power salute of resistance movements.
These groups of title holders do not put on caps. The Oseze-Ogbani is the war commander and always leads the Ohimegye entourage in any outings.
The kingdom is administered through the four principal traditional title holders of Onadakiogbani, Ohimoziogbani, Ogozaogbani and Asanyaogbani. They are assisted by other important traditional titile holders too numerous to mention chosen from the eight Ruling houses of Igu, Koton-Karfe.
The Ondakiogbani is second in command; he coordinates all the activities in the kingdom with the directives of the Ohimegye Igu.
HRM, ALHAJI ABDULRAZAQ GAMBO SANI ISA-KOTO
OHIMEGYE IGU KOTON-KARFE (AGABA IDU)
CHAIRMAN, KOGI LOCAL GOVERNMENT TRADITIONAL COUNCIL
CHAIRMAN, KOGI/LOKOJA AREA TRADITIONAL COUNCIL.
– SALAH CULTURAL Displays at the place of Ohimegye Igu
– ANNUALLY Fishing Festival are held all over the Rivering areas of the kingdom. The period is dry season when Rivers Niger and Benue are receding and the fishing ponds are getting dry. It is accompanied by beautiful cultural displays of the various ethnic groups. The period is between March and April.
– AKUKI CULTURAL Festival is held annually to mark the end of harvest of crops and grains.
– There is also the annual Qur’anic Competition with competitors from the various villages converging at Koton-Karfe for the finally round.
– The burial site of Ohimegye Ohetenye at Givinya
– The burial sites of Ohimegyes and other traditional holders of Odaki extraction at Ahvete on the hills of Okpaka along Abuja-Koton-Karfe expressway.
– The Usi-kokoko cave over-hanging the hills of Koton-karfe.
– The plains of the Plateau on the hills of Koton-Karfe.
– The Igbede cold springs emanation from Egbed hills in Koto