Reactions trail Kogi land dispute
In recent time, Kogi state has been reportedly recorded with agitations and contemplation about the homeowner of Korton Karfe, Lokoja and Ajaokuta from two dominating warlord tribes(Igala vs Egbira) due to judgment delivered by the Federal High Court sitting in Lokoja on 2nd June,2020.
“Na we get the Land” meaning “We own the Land” has been a controversial issue in Kogi State as many historical stories have been propounded and propagated by both tribes leading to heated controversies on social media platforms.
Historically, information extracted from some quarters has it that, Igala was the only known tribe from kogi soil that fought a war with the Jukuns, a war that igalas won by killing the Jukuns king. However, history is now tracing it out that, Ebira migrated from Igala and he is a junior son to Igala after the Igala-Jukun war; a junior son of Igala migrated from Idah to a place called "oko ene" meaning “farm of wolfs. It was a farm where wolfs were too common then. So, the "oko ene" is now what is known as Okene.
According to information gathered from Kogi State Political Watch Group on Facebook where a source was quoted, “Where was the Igala when Late Alh. Abdulazeez Attah the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation was at a war to see the giant Steel Industry located in Ajaokuta marked in Kwara then? Where was the Igalas when the Local Government Areas were created and allotted at the early times of creation of Kogi State."
He added, "if the Ajaokuta had been a land belonging to the Igalas as claimed today, what was the state of the land prior to the merging of the different entities to form Kogi State today, the Igalas have been under the then Benue State and the Ebiras in the old Kwara while Ajaokuta area was a part of Okene Local Government in Kwara, even after the creation of Kogi State and after the creation of Ajaokuta as a Local Government it fell under the Central part with no argument until 2017 when the Igalas had laid a claim of ownership of the land against the Attorney General of the Federation which the court had recently ruled in favour of the Igalas.
Another report disclosed, “The memorandum sent on 20th March, 1995 by the Attah of Igala to the Abacha government claiming ownership of Ajaokuta and Lokoja. The claim was eloquently rejected in a well researched rebuttal sent by the Ohinoyi (Alh. Muhammadu Sani Omolori) to the Federal Government on August 27, 1995. In the rejoinder, he urged Government to “dismiss the claim by the Attah as a bad joke; to review the status of Attah Igala as the Chairman of Kogi State Council of Chiefs in the context of the frame of his mind - attempting to spring crisis and destabilize the nation, and to look into the security implications in the Attah Igala's communications with foreign countries without observing the requisite procedure and permission over the subject-matter of Treaty, which is exclusively within the powers of the Federal Government.” The Ohinoyi advised the Federal Government that, "should the Igalas be given their own State (Okura), the towns and settlements founded by Ebira Panda, Ebira Igu, Ebira Mozum, Bassa-Nge and Bassa Kwomo should not be included in the Igala State."
Reports from the agitations went further, "The federal high court judgement in favour of ATTAH IGALA over Ajaokuta, Lokoja, coton-karfi as parts of igala kingdom is too weighty to appeal. In the case, it was only affidavit/document evidence that was required, not oral evidence of the documents tendered by Atta Igala before the court, one document shows the agreement between Bishop Ajayi Crowder and Ameh Obonyi the then Atta igala, in which Atta igala gave out a land to Bishop Ajayi Crowder to build a church. Another document shows the agreement between Queen Elizabeth of England and Atta igala over Lokoja and Ajaokuta land during the British colonial rule in Nigeria.
“All these documents were fetched from the national archive in Kaduna," another report purported.
However, diffrent stories about the origination and history of Kogi State are brought to limelight by different sources and individuals in the era of "Na we get the Land."
The Court declaration has placed an abysmally atmosphere composed of hatred, anger and disunity majoly among Igalas and Egbiras leaving us with the rhetoric: " Na who get the land?"