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Lagos Oba traces origin to Benin,

By Gabriel Omohinmin
14 May 2017   |   3:35 am
Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, has come out to make another categorical statement that he should not be associated with the Yoruba culture and tradition, which most critics said he violated.

Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu

After what looked like a clever way to explain his refusal to shake hands with the Ooni of Ife at a recent function in Lagos, the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, has come out to make another categorical statement that he should not be associated with the Yoruba culture and tradition, which most critics said he violated. Palace Watch had reported that Lagos had a way of greeting, which was what Palace sources explained was observed, when the two Obas met.

But last week, in Lagos, the Oba said Lagos State is not part of Yoruba land. According to a statement from Iga Idugaran, Palace of the Lagos King, Oba Akiolu was quoted as saying: “I was told by my late paternal grandmother, who was a descendant of Oba Ovonranwen Nogbaisi, and with facts from historical books, let me share this knowledge with you all on Eko or Lagos, as it is popularly called.

“Modern day Lagos was founded by Prince Ado, the son of the Oba of Benin. Prince Ado was the first Oba of Lagos, and he it was that named the town Eko, until the Portuguese explorer, Ruy de Segueira, changed the maritime town to Lagos, which at that time from 1942 was Portuguese expedition centre down the African Coast.

“It was a major centre of slave trade, until 1851. Lagos was annexed by Britain via the Lagos treaty of cession in 1861, ending the consular period and starting the British colonial period. The remainder of modern day Nigeria was seized in 1886, when the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria was established in 1914, Lagos was declared its capital, due to the struggle of the Bini King.

“Lagos experienced growth prior to the British Colonial rule, but even more rapid growth during the colonial rule throughout the 90s till date. Thanks to the Aworis, Binis, Yorubas and migrants across the nation and the world at large, as no particular group of people can take the glory alone.

“Lagos is made up of lagoons and creeks. These are the Lagos Lagoon, Lagos Harbour, Five cowrie creeks, New Canal, Badagry creeks, Kuramo waters and Lighthouse Creeks.

“The Aworis and Binis are known to be the first settlers of the Eko land. The Aworis are speakers of a distinct dialect close to that of Yoruba language with a rich Bini mixture. Traditionally, Aworis were found in Ile-ife; they were known to be the Binis, who followed their self-exiled prince, the first son of the Ogiso (now called Oba) of Benin Kingdom, whose stepmother was after his head.

“The exiled Benin Prince Izoduwa, known to Yoruba as Ooduwa (Oduduwa), was made ruler of the Ife people due to his powers and followers from the great Benin Kingdom.

“Izoduwa (Ooduwa) was made the first king of Ile-Ife in 1230 AD. His followers from his father’s Kingdom in Benin are today’s Awori people, who settled in Eko now called Lagos.

“In the 1300s, the King of Benin Empire heard from one of his traders, who were settlers in Eko, of how the Binis were treated by the Aworis who lived in their areas. Upon hearing this, the King of Benin commanded the assembly of a war expedition, led by his son, Prince Ado, which headed (for) the settlement of the Aworis and demanded explanation.

“On arriving Eko, Prince Ado and his army were more than welcomed. The Aworis asked the Bini Prince to stay and become their leader. Ado agreed on the condition that they surrender their sovereignty to the Oba of Benin, to which the people agreed. On hearing this, the King of Benin gave his permission for Prince Ado and the expedition to remain in Eko.

“The Oba of Benin sent some of his chiefs, including the Eletu, Odibo, Obanikoro and others to assist his son, Oba Ado in the running of Eko.

“From the crowning of Prince Ado, as the first Oba of Lagos, (then called Eko), Lagos served as a major centre for slave trade. The Aworis, the Oba of Benin and his son, the Oba of Lagos and all the children/descendants, who took over as his successors for over four centuries supported the trade.

“The Oba of Benin was the head of the Benin Empire, which are presently the modern day western, southern and eastern Nigeria. The king never forced anyone to speak the Bini language, as he believed everyone was entitled to their own choice of language.

“The name Eko was given to it first, by the king of Lagos, Oba Ado, the young and vibrant prince from Benin. Eko was the land now known as Lagos Island, where the king’s palace was built.

“The palace is called Idugaran, which means “palace built on pepper farm.” Oba Ado and the warriors from Benin, together with the early Bini settlers in Eko and the Awori people settled in the southern part of Eko, called “Isale Eko.” “Isale literally means downtown (as in down town Lagos).

“Until the coming in of the Benin in 1300 AD, Lagos’ geographical boundary was Lagos mainland. Lagos Island, the seat of the Oba of Lagos, then consisted of a pepper farm and fishing post. No one was living there.

“About 1450 AD, some Yorubas, who hailed from Isheri in Ogun State and Ekiti were allowed by the King to settle in Eko during a war. They came in very large numbers, thereby surpassing the numbers of the Aworis and Binis. Hence the Yorubas’ claim to own Eko, due to their numbers.

“Oba Ado fell in love with a beautiful woman, whose father was Awori and the mother, a daughter to one of the chiefs. They had two sons and a daughter, Erelu Kuti, who begot Ologun Kutere, who later became king.”