The poignant nostalgia of the exiled monarchs: Abiseku of Abinsi, since 1906-2008 with attendant consequences of attritions on the peopled Awanu Nation
The late Abiseku Sabo Ajidoku whose reign brought peace and harmony
By HRH Dr. Sabo Ajidoku Emmanuel
Outrageous? Don’t worry. Just trail around after me, for; still within living memories were the events of the yesteryear. These facts are indisputable. Very bitter bizarre tragic phenomena in the lives of the native Awanu people, since time immemorial. This hassle, masterminded by the activities of the ‘coven’ to enmesh hate crime has perpetually been a damp squib.
Record, has it that, a canteen (stores) established by the Royal Niger Company in 1884, in Abinsi, was ransacked by the rat-a-tat-tat, Tiv, in 1906. Consequent upon this, King Agabi, the reigning Abiseku of Abinsi then, was invited by the British authority to give account of/about the theft in the canteen (stores) that was greatly damaged and properties and cash carted away by the imbecile marauding Tiv miscreants. This, contemporaneous with allied and sundry other internally domestic concomitant issues, too hot to handle, made the British authority to indict King Agabi. King Agabi’s inability to promptly provide or furnish the British authority with some useful, verifiable, reliable and tangible information or explanations about the unfortunate incidence attracted some punitive penalty. King Agabi, unjustly was arrested, deposed from the throne and exiled. He was the only Jukun man ransom. This stark denial of Justice as viewed by clean hearted people, was a happy slapping by some stool pigeons to smear the monarch.
Worthy of mentioning here too, were the Tiv ringleaders who masterminded the pillage plot in persons of Kyekye Asera, Dari and Anyangwa. Kyekye Asera and Dari were taken to Lokoja and sentenced to one year imprisonment; but Anyangwa continually evaded arrest using his power of metamorphosis and invisibility. Under the pretext that they (British forces) were looking for Anyangwa, the British forces invaded and destroyed Utyondo’s (Ihyarev) villages. When Anyangwa saw the travails of his people, he willingly submitted himself to the British authority and was taken to Ibi where nobody has heard of him till today.
Abiseku Agabi Doko, in a triumphant exit, kissed the Abise soil and, turning on to the wailing crowds of people that trailed behind him, charged his people to be of good cheers, to remain calm and law abiding. With treacherous tears flooding the cheeks of his people, the gallant monarch, Agabi sighed deeply and was in a snit, then gathered courage and embarked the captors’ boat to anchor at Ibi, the first harbor, or port of disembarkation. From there he was shipped to Ameri and finally taken to Wukari, to meet his elder brother, the Aku Uka of Wukari. During this period in question, though at different intervals, were the arrests, dethronements and imprisonments of some monarchs from other parts of the world for some perceived, or obvious offenses, crimes and anarchy committed in their various domains. The Wukari prison witnessed the nobility of the Sultan, Muhammadu Tambari of Sokoto Caliphate who died in 1931; the Osana of Keana – Ido Ozegya who later on returned to Keana to rule again, after achieving astonishing feats of killing the dreaded lion at the forested stream in Wukari.
While serving jail terms at the Wukari prison, King Agabi Doko never lose contact with his people. In fact, before his demise, the members of the inner circle (the Awatsa) and his children visited him severally from Abinsi. And when they visited him last, he gave a verdict for the choice of installing a new King; of which the elders did not act in honour of cultural prohibitions, which was maintained till Abiseku Agabi Doko, became guest to mother Earth.
His office let another take. The choice of Azyjidoku Agabi as the new King; Abiseku of Abinsi was rapturously applauded by all and sundry. Consider the period between 1906 to 1911, it was indeed quite a while for a people without a substantive King in place. Thus, the people celebrated this enthronement with great joy. As it was postulated, the reign of Abiseku Azyjidoku Agabi, saw a great light shining towards or against a great darkness. It was indeed, a sharp comparison with the reign of erstwhile Emperor Mansa Musa of the famous Mali Empire. No wonder, the British authority saw in him the charisma, were fascinated and described Azyjidoku as, “Being a man of personality and character Ajidoku ruled his widespread district without much difficulty”. Intelligence Report on Abinsi Town and its environs by Mr. K.P. Maddocks, Assistant District Officer, dated 27 of August, 1934, stamped and signed on the 29th August, 1934; refers.
No sooner than Azyjidoku’s demise that the ever-prolonged cupidity between Abinsi (Abise) and Ankwa (Azyjoko) became so tensed up. Ataki Agabi (cousin to Azyjidoku) became King, Abiseku of Abinsi and Gidigidi was the King, or Awase of Azyjoko, these scuzzy squabbles between them, paved way; and the move for the balkanization of the two units; became very obvious. It is critical to understand that Ankwa (Azyjoko) being the first-comer or settler was asked to move to the main land for the headship proper of the riverine units in 1913, as there was … “inevitable dispute between Abinsi and Ankwa for succession, a circumstance which seems to have brought about the 1929 to abolish the Abinsi District and to place each village under the Tiv Native Authority to whose area it was adjacent” As a result of this disagreement between Abinsi and Ankwa, both, Jukun brothers; “The majority of villages namely Abinsi and Ankwa and their hamlets went to Harev East (Utiondo). The remainder were apportioned out amongst the Nongovs; the lion’s share falling to Nongov East (Saghev). Anyishi and Akatsu alone went to Shitire North”.
The argument first was that though, “Gidigidi, sarkin Ankwa, put forward his claim but again refused to move to the mainland, while Ataki, son to Ajidoku, [not son but cousin to Azyjidoku-emphasis mine] was considered unsuitable for the post”. Intelligence Report on Abinsi Town and its environs by Mr. K.P. Maddocks, Assistant District Officer, dated 27 of August, 1934, stamped and signed on the 29th August, 1934; refers. But however; and in the wake of Gidigidi’s refusal to move to the mainland, the British authority had no option than to balkanize the two units, and made Ankwa to pay taxes to Abinsi, with Gidigidi paying under protest. Till now, this historical hangover, this bitterest pill is still stucked there, hard to spit it out and the enemy is taking advantage of this hogwash. When Abiseku Ataki Agabi who contested with Autoshi passed on in 1957, there was a strong and bitter contest between Agoshi Ataki and Ayiyole Alubo, both, were cousins. Agoshi Ataki eventually emerged victorious with the backing of the Tiv Native Authority, sitting in Gboko, while Ayiyole Alubo lost the chance of becoming the Government approved candidate. The Jukun majority demonstrated apathy and decided to support Ayiyole Alubo and consequently in protest crowned him as the Abiseku. That was the very first time in history, Abinsi witnessed the installation of two Kings at a time. The historical details are there in J.A. Asemanya’s. ‘The Jukun of Abinsi: A Socio-Political History’, running through pages 75-80. In fact, he perfectly described the situation as the “reign of terror” and that between 1957-1967, he considered it as “the darkest period in the history of Abinsi”. Agoshi and Ayiyole both died almost simultaneously, early in 1967, gaping themselves two months interval, with Agoshi first and Ayiyole (followed) next. The emergence of Sabo Azyjidoku as the new Abiseku of Abinsi ended the age-long dynasty squabbles or struggles of the era. The seat was keenly contested between Sabo and Awunuzyji. Soon after the installation of Sabo Azyjidoku as the Abiseku of Abinsi, something very spectacular happened within the traditional institution. Quick to notice was the mysterious disappearance of staff of Office, an instrument of power, traditionally revered in the institution of Abisekuship. It was rumoured and speculated about the missing staff. Caucuses were held, investigations followed, some follow ups made. Some princes were probed and pleads advanced for the safe return of the staff of defense and prosperity known to be “Akutezyjoh”, but it was an exercise in futility. One good thing about the situation is that, it did not degenerate into separation in the sibling’s circle. After all, anger against a brother is only felt on the flesh and not in the bone. The brotherhood remained intact and our parents kept clean relationship till death did them part.
In 1986, there was another contest between Captain Clement Asuku Abayilo (Rtd) and Hon Anthony A. Abari, both, were cousins. Captain Clement Asuku Abayilo (Rtd) emerged victorious after the contest and was crowned, the Abiseku of Abinsi. His reign witnessed trepidation, as there were connivance, mischief, dangerous manipulations and maneuvers, resulting in truculence, which permeated down to terrible confusion, anarchy, intercommunal conflicts and the eventual dethronement and banishment of the King, the Abiseku of Abinsi, Clement Asuku Abayilo. Omigod, no Tiv chief was blamed or punished; under close monitoring and supervision of Tiv Traditional council, with the late HRM Orchivirigh Dr. Alfred Akawe Torkula, Tor Tiv iv, chairing the nefarious saga!. Unfortunately, Captain Clement Asuku Abayilo, became another sacrificial lamb; the second King or Abiseku of Abinsi, ever dethroned till date.
These chronological series of attritions; hitherto; one can still feel the pulsation that neutralizes the people’s nostrum. Besides; pride, vaunted ambition, snobbery, greed, poverty, ignorance, envy, jealousy, supremacy, rivalry, blackmail, illiteracy, and indolence all along over times have been the bane of our collective efforts to make meaningful progress for the advancement of Awanu Nation. Sometimes, the people pontificate, and beclouded with aura, plunge themselves into audacious misdemeanors. So, to be on the safer side, let us not try and daredevil stunts. In an attempt to confront the ‘Lion’, let us all in a battalion mojo, incapacitate the monster by adopting the fearless pranks of the wolves. We must all concede the fact that our travails today, can partially be traceable to our inability to regroup and identify who we are, in this unfavourable environment. Those of us who are politicking are deeply right there submerged by the pleasures of the momentary smash smithereens stipends. Don’t be an Esau. But dine and wine with wisdom. Everyone in the game of politics has a political overlord. But tell your master that your people must exist, must survive. These goody goodies should not enslave your conscience. Read Genesis 25:30-34. Beware of populism, because that can be portentous. All of us have friends amongst them and cannot play to the gallery. Or else show me a virgin in a maternity ward. It is possible to psych out any tribe that may constitute a stumbling block; against us. But we must shun and not shunt materialism, the falcon must hear the falconer, hypocrisy and sycophancy must give way, no bania of our piece of inheritance: this land, our treasures. This is the only sure way, we can survive or strive to thrive.
Awanu, shido u yii ayiyi, koooh?