Lagos is a “No Man’s Land” is an Ancestral Insult

If you can't call Benin and Onitsha a no man's land, respect Lagos and its ancestral owners.

Ahmodu Tijani
Ahmodu Tijani

Ahmodu Tijani, a direct descendant of the founder of Lagos and Oluwa of Lagos in the 1920’s.

He took the British to court in the early 1900’s to protest the 1861 treaty of the British with Dosumu, arguing the the representative of the Oba of Benin at no time had rights to the Lands of Lagos and it was not his to give away – a case he won based on historical evidence showing that the Idejo chiefs of Yoruba descent had always been the landowners of Lagos.

There is one reason why Yoruba people don’t gloat over lands they held historical stakes but not their ancestral lands.. This is because Yorubas are blessed with expanse of lands that are very fertile and a large sea coast.

Even when some of our lands were taken and annexed into other regions, we were still in fight but if we were to talk historically as is being said about Lagos, then Benin and Onitsha both belong to Yoruba people.

The Prince that founded Benin was called Eweka, he was the son of Oranmiyan who once ruled the people of the region. he founded this city because the most important nobility at Igodomigodo was hostile to the new alien dynasty from Ife and refused for him to rule from the main capital.

He had to pay them for the right to lease the territory he ruled from this new capital, he built a kingdom designed along Yoruba spirituality like Tegbessou of Dahomey did.

For many centuries, Benin paid homage to Ife as its source of leadership and spirituality until he arrival of the British.

This is known fact of history before the many interesting revisionist stories natives of Benin engage in today to hide a terrible complex that have about how much they owe the Yoruba people for the advancement as a nation starting from the second dynasty.

Very much like the complex Igbos have at the mention of Ajayi Crowther as the man who brought Christianity and exposure to Igbo land.

Historically, in Ajayi Crowther’s journal, he expressed that before his arrival, Igbos lived in hunger and his expedition had the credit of teaching them how to farm and providing them with seeds.

It was also Ajayi Crowther who built the first school in Igbo land as well as the first church, having brought Christianity to Igbo land.

Same Ajayi Crowther as a linguistics wrote the first Igbo alphabets and gave them the gift of putting Igbo language into words.

His grandson (Hubert Macaulay) was also the man that would groom Namdi Azikiwe from an activist into a politician and hand over the NCNC party to him.

The strong complex of the people of the East make them struggle so much with Yoruba benevolence to both Benin and Igbo people that they have given many recent revisionist stories about true ancestry of heroes from the Yoruba nation that played important roles in their emergence from a nation of backward people to one of a people with exposure and knowledge.

Onitsha did not exist until the mid 1500’s, the people who call Lagos no man’s land and estate of Benin also try to hide the true history of one of the most important Eastern cities.

The foundation of Onitsha was laid by Benin nobles and the existence of the city was as a remote satellite extension of Benin, every new Obi must seek legitimacy by receiving a sword of authority from the Oba of Benin and paid annual tributes to Benin.

The most important Igbo figure of all times; Nnamdi Azikiwe confirmed in his book that Onitsha was founded by Benin and he was a direct descendant of his migrant founder from Benin.

This means Benin has rights to Onitsha and by extension, Yoruba has rights to Onitsha, since its nobility and spirituality founded Benin.

Irrespective, Yoruba people do not care for their stake in these lands, they are blessed with all they need in our ancestral lands.

Yoruba does not need stakes in Igbos land and we do not argue for rights to it. Therefore, the Igbos should not argue for rights to the Yoruba’s land.

Buying lands and building homes in the Southwest does not automatically give you ancestral rights. They are two different issues. Lagos was founded by Yoruba nobility from Ife.

The 12 Idejo chiefs that originally owned the lands of Lagos since its founding are Yoruba and sons of one father. The OBA that launched a campaign to the western coastline was Oba Orogbhua. he was not interested in the lands of Lagos, what he wanted was rights to the coast to monopolize trades by sea. This was why negotiations was easy between the Idejo chiefs and the Oba.

The treaty they signed gave the 12 chiefs rights to their lands while the king appointed by the Oba from Benin, was to regulate commerce and receive royalties, and this was why the Idejo chiefs took the British to court when Dosumu ceded Lagos to the British crown in 1861, claiming that the Oba of Lagos does not have such rights to the lands and could not sign it away.

The appellate court ruled in favor of the Idejo chiefs and told the colonial government that they must always compensate the real owners of the land which is the Idejo chiefs anytime they needed land for colonial use in Lagos. 

Lagos is the land of Aworis and the land owners are the Idejo chiefs. To continue to insult these people by calling their lands “no man’s land” is a direct insult on their ancestral heritage.

If you can’t call Benin and Onitsha a no man’s land, respect Lagos and its ancestral owners.

Even among the Yoruba people, they respect the right of the ancestral owners of Lagos.

How much more migrants that did not know a place called Lagos existed before the amalgamation.

Editor’s note: The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of iNaijanow.


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