LOKOJA IN SEARCH OF IDENTITY
By Bologi Muhammed Maikudi
The controversy surrounding the ownership of Lokoja has made me revisit my ancestral library. I had earlier resolved that I wouldn’t involve myself in very controversial topics of this nature. Because what an elder sees while sitting may never be seen by a child even on the tallest tree. However, I may share what I have learnt with you if you wish to learn privately. Nevertheless, I must share this!
From historical evidences gathered, I can confirm authoritatively that the Igala narrative of the origin of Lokoja is false. And also state here authoritatively that the first king of Lokoja was nominated by Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, blessed and confirmed by the Etsu Nupe – Masaba. Who at that time was in control of Lokoja.
We are talking about events of 1857 and the person was Jacob Mieux currently the Musa royal family of Lokoja. Jacob Mieux was latter to be called Musa (1859-1896) appointed by the Estu Nupe. There are documents aged 100years supporting these claims.
I then decided to rest my case not until something propelled me to analysis the validity of the Atta Igala’s claim which raised two points and documents supposedly gotten from the National Archives Kaduna. So I went deeper in my search!
On the points of the two documents deposed by the Atah Igala. The first on the request of land for the construction of a church by Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther and the cessation of lands to the British by the then Atta.
There are evidences which supports further that the same Ajayi Crowther nominated David Mieux his interpreter to Masaba for kingship of lokoja. If the evidences are valid then the Attah Igala should have appointment and confirmed Jacob Mieux and not the Estu Nupe. These facts are there. Let’s learn to read.
On the agreement between the attah and the queen is also very clear. The agreement was in line with the abolition of slavery and the request of a farm land by the Royal Niger Company.
The location of the farm land, amount made and the representative of the atta are there. Even in the case of the sold land, Can you own what you have already sold? Even in that, the sold land became a legacy of colonialism which was bequeathed to the Nigerian government which the atta lacks jurisdiction.
The contention now should be the exact location of the farm land. Facts are there to show this location and I can confidently tell you it’s not the present day Lokoja.
It is unfortunate that today’s Lokoja was the generic name for all lands around the confluence. Do you know that those who do not know their history still refers to Shintaku as Lokoja? The exact region of the confluence is originally not Lokoja. But the British documented events and locations with false names.
Across the river is within the jurisdiction of the Atta. Precisely Bassa Land downward. The river demarcated the Igala land and other lands while Lokoja is on the other side of the demarcation.
I went deeper in my search and these were also revealed- the true owners of Lokoja: The oworos, the early settlers: the Bassas and the conquerers; the Nupes. These group of people may validly lay claim to Lokoja. Please understand my demarcations.
The Bassas and Nupes are brothers from the Bida and Nupe land axis who decided to leave the Nupe fold to establish themselves. They moved from their ancestral home in search of land down to Lokoja. But before then, the oworos have already settled in these areas – Lokoja,Jakura and others before the Bassas.
Masaba who felt that the Bassas were run aways seeking independence led an army of solders to bring back the Bassas which resulted to the conquest of Lokoja by the Nupes. The Oworos fled uphill to Agbaja and other areas while the Bassas crossed the river into Igala land. The Nupes now established a territory in the present day Lokoja and was administered by Masaba the then Estu Nupe.
These are facts concerning the origin and ownership of Lokoja and never did I find the exploits of the Igalas or any settlement belonging to them.
However, a learned friend of mine in person of Barr. T.S Na’Allah was a member of the counsel representing the state government who presents this position of the law. As such, we can continue the conversation from here!
“I actively participated in the case on behalf of kogi state government and I have copies of the court processes/documents filed by all the parties involved in the case.
The learned trial judge gave a very brief judgement and we hope to have a copy of the judgement within the week to study and know the next line of action. I doubt if the trial court said in its judgement that, the land stretching from Ajaokuta to koton-karfe all belong to Igala Kingdom. That’s because, the trial court lacks the jurisdiction to make such pronouncements cause it’s not within the court’s power to so do.”
So where are the Igalas on social media getting their narratives from? Lokoja and her people are peace loving people. They are very accommodating as such welcomes all tribes. We must stop these falsehood and await the complete copy of the judgment. Kogi is already in crisis, if this isn’t managed properly, I foresee a breakdown of law and order. Peaceful people can sometimes become violent once their identity is questioned falsely.
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