HISTORY OF THE ATTAHS OF IGALA KINGDOM
Igalas, in present day Kogi State, are ruled by a figure called the ”Attah”. The word Attah means father and the full title of the ruler is Attah Igala, meaning the father of Igala.
The Names of Past and Present Attah Igala are Listed Below:
9. Ohemi Obogo Ocholi
11. Itodo Aduga
13. Idoko adegbe
15. Eekele Aga- 1834
16. Ame Ocheje- 1835-1856
17. Akwu Odiba- 1856-1870
18. Okoliko- 1870-1894
19. Ame Aga- 1895-1900
20. Ocheje Onakpa- 1901-1903
21. Oboni Akwu – 1905-1911
22. Ogwuche Akpa- 1911-1919
23. Atabo Ijomi- 1919-1926
24. Obaje Ocheje- 1926-1945
25. Ame Oboni- 1946-1956
26. Aliyu Obaje- 1956-2012
27. Idakwo Ameh Oboni- 2013- date..
Among the most revered Attahs of the Igala kingdom are Attah Ayegba Oma Idoko and Atta Ameh Oboni. According to oral tradition, Attah Ayegba Oma Idoko offered his most beloved daughter, Omodoko to ensure that the Igalas win a war of liberation from the Jukuns’ dominance and that of Inikpi against Benin kingdom.
Attah Ameh Oboni is known to be very brave and resolute. He is revered for his stiff resistance to the British and his struggles to uphold some ancient traditions of the Igalas. When he got wind of a plan by the British to depose and exile him, he committed suicide by hanging himself to forestall the plan. He is regarded by most Igalas as the last real Attah Igala.
1. Attah Ayegba Om’Idoko
The importance of Attah Ayegba Oma 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. Attah Akumabi Ayegba (2nd Attah from Ayegba)
Akumabi was the first son of Attah Ayegba Oma 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 Attah 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. Attah 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. Attah Amacho and Attah 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. Attah Ekelega (c.1824-1839) (11th Attah Igala from Ocholi Akogu)
There are two important events to note about the reign of Attah Ekelaga. These were:
1. He was the first Attah Igala to come in contact with the Europeans. In 1832, the leader of 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 assassinated 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. Attah Amocheje (c.1840-1858) (The 12th Attah 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, Attah 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 Expedition reached Idah town.
The Captain of the ship (Captain Trotter) 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. Attah Akwu Odiba (c.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 European traders and companies became active on the River Niger. It was also during his reign that Dr William Blake 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. Attah Okoliko Onuche (c. 1863 – 1882) (The 12th Attah 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 in 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. Attah Amaga (c.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, thousands of refugees poured into Igalaland in thousands. Attah Amaga could not enforce his authority in the northern part of the Kingdom.
11. Attah Ocheje Onokpa (1901 – 1903) (The 16th Attah 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 Partridge. 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 province of Southern Nigeria. While the present Dekina, Bassa, Omala, Ankpa and Olamaboro 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.
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 (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 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 feared the colonial officers. This rebellion is sometimes called the Mahionu War.
Attah Oguche Akpa organised the rebellion with the cooperation 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 Ocheje), 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.
This incomplete article written by an anonymous author was sent by Kenneth Aikoye Ademu
Picture: The Attah Igala and Chairman of Kogi State Traditional Council of Chiefs, Dr Idakwo Michael Ameh Oboni II