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Ekeomah Atuonwu

Attah Ameh Oboni was born in 1911 in a village near Ugwolawo in Kogi state. He was about three months old when his father, Attah Oboni Akwu Odiba died, and with the death of his father, he left the palace to stay with his mother’s relatives at Adumu Village in Itobe District. 

In 1935, Prince Ameh Oboni left Idah for lokoja and later to Okene, where he eventually found employment under the then British waterworkes. While in Okene, Prince Ameh Oboni enrolled himself in to elementary primary school where he studied up to class two (2).

He was very fluent in Hausa language, the Official language of the defunct Northern religion. Prince Ameh Oboni at this time resided at Ugwunoba and Okene seeking for knowledge in traditional way as a free thinker. In 1938 , Onu Acho died and Mr. Goble, the district officer of Idah, sent for Prince Ameh Oboni, ending the Prince’s sojourn at Okene. With this unfortunate incident, Prince Ameh Oboni, a young man of ( 27) then became the heir apparent to Ata throne.

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 was powerful and he made some pronouncements that that all came to pass. 

There was a particular sickness called jigger or chigger (ikpelikpe) which eats up toes and making people unable to work and walk, he commanded that every infected person be healed and that the sickness be out of Igala land. It happened as stated.

There was an animal, which used to come home and carry children including sleeping adults sometimes from the room which was made of grass wall. He cursed the animals never to come to Igala land again and that was the last time it was seen in Igala land.

Also, if someone misbehaved he had the power to say what would happen to such a person for either disrespecting him as Attah, or flouting the laws of the land. What he said always came to pass. So people knew that he had such powers. He was quite powerful, and was a real African traditional ruler. He was powerful because he would say things, and such will happen immediately. Attah Ameh Oboni ruled for ten years and these were explosive and unforgettable years in the history of Igala Nation. 

Some viewed him as a supernatural human being who would speak powerfully, and whatever he said would come to pass.

It was a taboo for Attah to remove his cap in the public /TheIgalaProject/

The Attah’s stool has many dos and don’ts, and these traditions can never be comprised no matter the situation as every defaulting has its own consequence. For instance, the Attah Igala does not see a dead body, he does not see a baby that is less than three months old, he does not shake hands with women, he does not remove his cap in the public or in the presence of people, etc. Unfortunately, some of these laws would cause Attah Ameh Oboni some problems later.

In a particular meeting held in Kaduna which consisted of all paramount traditional rulers in Nigeria and which had the Queen of England in attendance, Attah Ameh was forced to remove his cap and bow to greet the Queen of England as others had done though he refused until they said he should leave the meeting if he would not remove his cap. 

It was a taboo for Attah to remove his cap in the public, the entire hall where they were staying was occupied by bees from the cap of Attah Ameh Oboni which he removed in order to greet the Queen. The Queen of England as well as other rulers in the meeting ran helter-skelter except the friendly Oba of Benin who was asked by Attah Ameh to go out before he removed his cap. The hall became empty as some were stung by the bees and the meeting ended.

According to history, Attah Ameh Oboni was asked to be arrested and hand cuffed by the security people, which they did, but the hand cuff fell off his hands. He was later locked up in a room on the instruction of the Northern rulers and guarded by the security personnel but only to find out later by the personnel that he had left the room. Yes, when the security were taking him to be locked up, but he told his driver, Amanabo to take the car and go to Idah while the security locked him in the room. He then warned Amanabo not look back until he felt a cool breeze in the car. Though Amanabo argued a little that he cannot leave Agabaidu there but later obeyed and started driving back to Idah from Kaduna, and after some time, he felt the cool breeze in the car, and Attah Ameh was inside the car already.

This incident in the meeting made many traditional rulers who were mostly northerners to be angry especially making kings run in such a manner because of bees. This became one important sin, and it was like “one sin too many”.

The Queen of England was also not happy and they (the Queen and northern leaders) started looking for a way to remove Attah Ameh from the throne since he was getting tougher and uncontrollable like others as well as searching for an obedient replacement.

Ocho Festival is celebrated before farming starts, and it is the time that the Attah Igala prays to God for sufficient rainfall, bountiful harvest, success in hunting /TheCat/

Igala has various cultural festivals, one of which is Ocho. Ocho is celebrated before farming starts, and it is the time that the Attah Igala prays to God for sufficient rainfall, bountiful harvest, success in hunting. It is celebrated in the bush and the venue is called Ere-ocho where the Attah will hunt until he kills a Buffalo or a strong animal. The community in Idah where Ocho takes place is called Ogo-Efa. He performs little sacrifice to the ancestors using a fowl in the process too, and this was to find out if there will blessings or problems in the land after the Ocho.

Before this time, the enemies at home (among the Igala people) especially those having connections with the leaders of the northern region were working hard to get any evidence either true or false which can be used remove him from the throne. The blood of the animal used as sacrifice at Ocho ground now became what the enemies would use against him.

Petition was written by these two Igala people to the Queen and some other Northern leaders that Attah Ameh was sacrificing humans during the Ocho festivals. Since they were looking for any evidence to use for removing him, the judgment was quickly passed that he must be dethroned even when the investigation was not yet concluded.

In addition, all the Igala cultural festivals including the Ocho were immediately banned and this remained for almost 63 years until the current governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello unbannedit based on the appeal of the present Attah Igala.

Already, before this time, the Oba of Benin who had such friction with the British had already been dethroned and banished from Benin. So, Attah Ameh Oboni knew that at that point, no matter what spiritual approach applied, it can only postpone the evil day as his enemies will never relent until he was removed by them.

The result of the blood sample which was taken from the Ocho venue and taken to University of Ibadan for analysis had arrived and it was proved that it was the blood of animal and not human. Sadly, the revered King, Attah Ameh had gone to the other world before the result was brought.

But Attah Ameh being very sure that he was wrongly accused and framed up by his enemies, especially those from Igala who wrote the petition against him, he made some pronouncements before his death.

He was allegedly quoted to have said that ‘the person who wrote the petition against him would have the hands dried up, and that the leader of the gang or petitioners would be buried three times’. And it all came to past. 

In addition, as this information of his dethronement was given to him in a meeting from where he was supposed to go back to Idah and prepare to leave the throne, he stopped on the way in another Igala land called Dekina. That was where he committed suicide. Before taking his life, he was allegedly quoted to have said that the town, Dekina will be popular but its development will not be as much as its popularity.

HRM Ameh Oboni who journeyed to his ancestral home on 27th August 2020 /The Guardian/

He was also quoted to have said that for Igala to be the genesis of his ordeal, there will be disunity among the Igala people until the reign of his own blood (son) as Attah, and all Igalas irrespective of their locations will be reunited again. I think from the reconnection and reunification of Igala people across Nigeria and beyond which has been going on and still going on under the reign of his son, Agabaidu Idakwo Ameh Oboni II, that pronouncement of reunification of Igala people is also coming through.

However, his son died in August, 2020.

The new Attah Igala, Mathew Opaluwa who is the 28th Attah Igala took over from HRM Ameh Oboni who journeyed to his ancestral home on 27th August 2020.

The ascension to the throne of Attah at the present time is an event of great significance to many in Igala land. People speak of a fresh burst of development which would soon ripple across the land.

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Ekeomah Atuonwu

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