Significance of Imane to Expansion of Igala Kingdom

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Imane are Igala an ethnic group of Nigeria which practice a number of different religions, including Islam, Christianity and Paganism. The home of Imane, the people ruled by Onuh Odah Ojiji, is situated east of the River Niger and Benue confluence and astride the Niger in Lokoja.

In Igala tradition, infants from some part of the kingdom like Imane and Ankpa people receive three deep horizontal cut on each side of the face above the corners of the mouth as a way of identifying each other.

A brief history of Imane in Igala Kingdom:

When Ebule Jonu, the daughter of Abutu Eje, stepped into her father shoes and left Amagede to Idah – Amagede is the present Omala – she was installed as the First Attah Igala. After colonization of Ochekwu Amara (Omala) occurred in early 17th century, and Ayegba’s arrival at Idah towards close. This tradition is generally accepted by the present Attah ruling family at Idah.

However, after the death of Attah Ebulejonu, her brother, Aganapoje, was installed as the Attah Igala. When Aganapoje died, Idoko was installed as Attah Igala. After the death of Attah Idoko, Atiyele as the elder son of Idoko Eje, a hunter, went to a bush. On returning from bush, he realized that his father is dead. He wanted to step in his father’s shoe but the kingmakers already crowned his younger brother, Ayegba Oma Idoko as the Attah of Igala. When Ayegba OmaIdoko was crowned, Atiyele the son of Idoko Eje immigrated to Imane for the expansion of Igala Kingdom.

The royal clans or families at Idah are divided into 4 ruling families. The institution of Attah rotates within these four royal families. Their founders are Ocholi, Akogu, Akumabi and Amacho.

Atiyele, the first son of  Attah Idoko Oma Abuttu Eje from Amaju Ocholi clan, left Ukwaja Idah for Imane for the expansion of Igala Kingdom and for the fear of Jukun invasion. As he came to Imane, he stayed under Akpata Odah.

When some children from Otoko clan in Omelewu in Agaliga Imane, the present Olamaboro L.G.A, came to fetch fruits they saw a man with royal mask (ejubejuailo) and beads on his wrist. The children ran home with fear and called their fathers. The father picked his gun and followed them to the bush. Immediately Atiyele saw him, he began to praise him with Igala (Ajodoche) i.e the hunter, then the man from Otoko clan replied again with Igala slogans; Odah Ojiji Kidigbili. He was installed as the Odah Ojiji of Imane and he extended his administration to Ogugu, Okpo, Ankpa, Ojokwu, Enjema, Inye and Okenyi respectively.

Odah Ojiji Royal clan was made up of five (5) families: Ohiemi, Idede, Okolikotu, Aloga and Onyunka. 

Aoma Otoko: 

Aoma Otoko were in Omelewu/Agaliga Imane. The founder of Oto-oko linearge migrated from their ancient centre in the vicinity of the River Omul-lewu located in Igala – Idoma boundary in the area of Ugbokolo. Atiyele, the founder of Imane kingdom, immigrated from Idah, he sat under Akpata Odahd.

Children from Otoko clan came to the bush to look for survival, they saw a person with royal regalia and they panicked and ran to their father, Onuh Otoko. He prepared himself and picked his gun to go and trace that person. Then when Atiyele saw him he praised him with Igala slogans (Ajodoche) and Onu Otoko replied with royal honored Odaojiji Kidigbili. That was where The name Odaojiji emanated from. Otoko clan where in Imane before Odah. Otoko picked Odah from bush and directed him to staid by his left side at Ugbodo Agaliga Efabo Imane. That paved way for Idede and Ohiemi clan to rule for long decades.

But my mother’s great grand father, Abbah Odah Itodo, broke the monopoly and moved the palace of Onuh Odah from Agaliga to Efofe Imane.

Aoma Ochimane:

The first settlers and inhabitants of Imane, before the advent of Igala kingdom, extended their hands of relationship and mutual co-existence to give out their daughter, Anukpa, to Okolikotu in marriage. In olden days, if something terrible happened in Imane community it was ochimane people that will perform their traditional rites to exorcise the menace out of the community, and they have some professional herbal doctor that cure fracture, snake bite etc.

Although, Muslims and Christians in Imane considered any traditional rites as fetish in our generation. And there is a saying that Ochimane Imane lineage is believed to have originated from the sky. This is graphically demonstrated in the saying, “Ochimame Otutulubatu Oma owo gli gbaje”  meaning, “Ochimane the great people from the sky”.

 Okolikotu married one of his wives from Ochimane, named Anukpa, and his second wife is from Ette, original Igala in present Olamaboro LGA. She gave birth to Onyeke and Oguche respectively.

Meanwhile, Islam came to Imane through some scholars: the first person that established Islam in Imane was a muslim scholar called Baba Ogbo Momoh who left Okenyi for Imane. He resided at Efachipu. After him, the first indigene who started the propagation of Islam in Imane is Imam Hammeed. He was the first Imam of Imane. Then Juma’at Mosque at Ebuloko was the only mosque.

According to the history, when the population of muslims increased he ordered the building of Efekpe Central Mosque Imane in 1982. He established the second central mosque at Efekpe Imane. However, Imam Hammeed started the journey with some of his loyalist namely, Mallam Shaibu Ochai, Mallam Salifu Ukpoju, Mallam Yunusa at Aboh Ojoche Imane. Also, they are some people who originated from Kano named Mallam Balarabe and Ameh Akpa who settled at Mabeyi Ododa Imane. Then some other sets of  indigenous scholars; Alhaji Adamu Ameloko Odah, Mallam Yusuf Ameh who also returned from Aloko for Islamic education. Alhaji Adamu the son of Ameloko Odah was the first person to perform pilgrimage to Mecca. He made the journey by foot. However, Alhaji Abu Ochimane returned from Otukp where he acquired his Islamic education while Alhaji Zakari Abdullahi later returned from Ankpa where he acquired Islamic education. They really made use of the knowledge and experiences to spread Islam and put monotheist into their lives. After that, they are other pioneers who contributed to the expansion of Islamic religion in Imane, people like Alhaji Hassan Eneche aka Alh Elubelu, Mallam Salifu Ohi, Mallam Adamu Ochai, Mallam Abu Kurun, Mall Jibrin Ochai, Mallam Musa Obalekpe, Mallam Ibrahim Ochimane, Mallam Idi Ojamodah ochai, Mall Usman Ochai etc.

Christianity came to Imane through Christian missionary. They promoted Christian religion and western education. For instance, Roman Catholic Mission was introduced in Imane in early 1940 to promote Christianity and western education in Imane. The early Christian converts included late Peter Okpe, the first catechist, late MU Illah, EN Adejo, late Patrick Omachoko and other friends of Canadian. People like Rev. Father Micah, Mr. Ejelu etc, serving in Catholic Church Imane, contributed a lot to promote western education in Imane kingdom.

Finally, Atiyele came from Idah with some Igala Royal Tradition such as Odechi, Olele, Ugboro, Otegwu, Olageyi, Egu Attah etc. He later died in 1557 and was buried at Royal burial ground Idah ie Uloja Amona Ofe Ajattah. 

– Ali Yakubu Salihu, The Great Grandson of Ayeba Odah, wrote from Kaduna, Nigeria.

The history of the Igala Kingdom by Joseph N Ukwede C1534 – 1854, Arewa House studies Series. Page 55 and 170. Late Alhaji Baba BB, the former Waziri Eje of Ankpa, HRH onu odaojiji of Imane, Mr Salifu Ibrahim, District head of Imane, HRH Mallam Shaibu Abbah, Mallam Usman Ochai, Anaja ogaku of Imane, HRH Mallam Hassan Hammeed, Arone Odah ojiji of Imane, sir Sylvester Onoja, Akomu Attah Igala Dooga, HRH Mr Okoko Ajodoche of Otoko Omolewu Imane, HRH Sir John Agoli,  Ochai Odah ojiji of Imane, Amana Odah ojiji of Imane, Ogala Negbulu Odah ojiji of Imane, Achadu Onu Odah ojiji of Imane. HRH Mr Paul Emeje, Omachi Odah of Imane, 


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