Urhobo Historical Society

Mosogar, Omene, Ekeh and Urhobo History


By O. J. Enitame

Effurun, Delta State, Nigeria


Published in The Urhobo Voice, May 26, 2008 edition.


THE Urhobo Community, Abuja, recently celebrated Urhobo Day at Abuja on April 26, 2008. In a position paper delivered at the event, Urhobo Historical Society’s (UHS) Chairman and Editor, Prof. P. P. Ekeh, expressed worry at the growing number of Ivie in Urhobo land. He used the occasion, among other issues, to highlight the “creation” of Mosogar Clan in 2006, with its own Ovie. Ekeh also disagreed with the Government of Chief James Ibori (1999-2007) on that creation. The professor showed that the proliferation of Ivie diminishes the traditional rulers' institution in Urhobo land. It was obvious to the discerning reader that UHS was comparing, indirectly, the structure with similar institutions outside Urhobo land.


Was Ekeh right in his worry? Chief Joe Omene, the President-General of Mosogar Development Union, feels he was wrong. In his reaction, published on the front page of The Urhobo Voice, May 12, 2008, Omene left the issues and focused on Prof. Ekeh.


Omene said: “The man was not a good story teller” because “the word Mosogar and the word Idjerhe are not the same.” Neither Omene, the Mosogar people, nor the Idjerhe people can comment on the rising list of Ivie. This is because they are interested parties in this matter. It will take other Urhobo people, the UHS is a part, to say whether the large number has value or not.


Is the Number of Ivie Growing in Urhobo?


There is the ‘Avwraka one’ hanging in the air. The time may come when there would no longer be an Ovie of Abraka title. There is, already, an Ovie of Oruarivie-Abraka. That future would have a separate Ovie of Umiaghwa-Abraka title. A single Ovie of Abraka title would die out to make way for two Ivie. That matter is in the Appeal Court, Benin. More on it later. The dispassionate observer can understand where Ekeh is coming from, except the Omenes.


Physical Developments in Mosogar


One would have ignored him but for his distortion of history, in the bargain, while disagreeing with Prof. Ekeh. That was not all. Omene shot deliberately, without provocation, an arrow at Idjerhe. How? He taunted the Idjerhe people that “those who have the means should form a body to create employment that would develop Jesse in order to create employment for the youths, instead of dissipating energy on the creation of Mosogar Kingdom.”


The Idjerhe people are not envious of Mosogar people. Ekeh did not bother about the massive infrastructural development in Mosogar. Let’s underline one statement from Ekeh’s paper, which Omene sidetracked. It said: “Urhobo history and culture were severely violated in what appears to be the uncontested act of ‘creating’ an Urhobo ‘kingdom’ by Delta State government in 2006.” That statement is about the one-sided hearing Ibori conducted in Mosogar before ‘creating’ Mosogar Clan. It is also on the hasty and selective approach by Ibori. Samples prior to Ibori will be shown to the Omenes shortly. These are the issues. Ekeh was also worried about the spill-over effect  Ibori’s exercise would have in other Urhobo Clans. Does Omene know how many clan creation requests  are on the way to Asaba today?


Alleged Mosogar People Coming Directly from Agbarha-Otor


Omene said ‘‘Jesse and Mosogar came together because the white man joined them together for administrative convenience.” The colonialists did not put Idjerhe and Mosogar together. The colonialists penetrated Urhobo land in the 1890s. Idjerhe Clan existed before their arrival. They also had meetings every 18-days at Otorho-Idjerhe, which Mosogar people attended, based on representations from the outer units including Mosogar. The colonialists wrapped up what was in existence based on the same history Mosogar people confirmed to them. The colonialists did not create Idjerhe Clan. They listed and accepted what they met to work with.


If the ancestors of the Omenes were to wake up from the grave, they would be surprised at the “modern” history of Mosogar. The claim that Mosogar came, independently, from Agbarha-Otor is false. It is a tale made in the 2nd half of the 20th century. It started in the 1950s but documented in 1964 when Mosogar people made “sole claim” in court to what ought to be the Clan’s common wealth. It won at the Sapele court but lost at the Supreme Court (SC), as reported at ANLR, 1972, 2nd edition, Vol: 224-232. Omene should please read the SC’s findings and compare them with the “modern” history of Mosogar. Depending with whom Mosogar has a case, its history shifts. Omene knows there are court cases to show Mosogar’s galloping history. Leave it there but if he argues this, one will show, publicly, such cases.


There are two Intelligence Reports (IRs) on Idjerhe. These are (a) RJD Fremin 1931, especially pars. 16, 18-20, 35, 54, 57; and (b) RG Biddulph 1937, in particular, pars. 8, 19, 25-26. Mosogar is denying, today, its past in those 2 IRs. But if one searches deep, there is independent IR outside Idjerhe to show that the Omenes are busy fabricating history. How? Neither Mosogar people nor Idjerhe people were at Agbarha-Otor in the 1930s to tell the Agbarha-Otor people what to put in Ughelli’s IRs. There are 3 known IRs on the larger Ughelli (Ogelle) clan made up of Ogor, Agbarha, Ughelli and Orogun Clans. These are: P.V. Main, 1928; D.P. Stanfield, 1931; and E.R. Chadwick, 1932. None of the three IRs recorded Mosogar’s autonomous migration from Agbarha-Otor. Under “further Migrations from Agbassah-Otor” at par. 33, Stanfield said:


“At an unknown date the founder of the Jesse Clan, (now in Benin division) migrated from Agbassah and settled along the northern shores of the Ethiope river, and at about the same time the UGHARA Sobos split off from Agbassah.”


The Agbarha-Otor people gave this independent history. They also approximated when Idjerhe and Oghara people left but we know that Idjerhe eponymous founder left before the Oghara people.


Mosogar was not listed in Ughelli’s IRs. Mosgar had no known separate founder from other Idjerhe people. Why? All Mosogar villages grew from distant farmlands from Otorho-Idjerhe. Mosogar falls into what researchers and historians call indirect occupations. How did R.E. Bradbury describe such settlements as Mosogar? In his book: The Benin Kingdom and the Edo-Speaking Peoples of South-Western Nigeria, 1957:129, he said they are:


“… Villages and hamlets formed by progressive proliferation from an original parent community.”


Otorho-Idjerhe is Mosogar’s parent home and not Agbarha-Otor. The Omenes may get away with bastardisation of history but it does not matter. These and some other shadows, to be shown shortly, are what Ibori and his friends in Mosogar did not want to face at a commission of Inquiry, hence they avoided it.


The Civilian Attempt at Clan Creation

When the Olorogun F.O. Ibru’s  Government (1992-93) wanted to create seven Clans in Delta state, it set up the Justice M.C.U. Odita Commission of Inquiry, 1993, to examine the agitations. It was announced at 8 p.m. news (Delta TV, Warri) on October 9, 1993. It had not been sworn-in to commence work when the Sanni Abacha Government struck, November 17, 1993. The matter died there. The Ibru administration had the decency and intention to consult all stakeholders through Odita. Compare Ibori.


It is just as well that the same Ibru is the current President-General of Urhobo Progress Union (UPU). So when Omene was rejoicing over Ibru’s statement that so far “requirements” were met in Mosogar’s creation, it is something else. It is not only Mosogar people that are watching Olorgun Ibru’s comment. Other Urhobo people and, indeed, Deltans are also alert. History waits and would document it.


The Military Example at Clan Creation

When the Ibrahim Kefas Government, also in Delta State, got request for the splitting of Avwraka Clan, it set up the L.S. Nwafili commission of Inquiry, 1995. The commission collected oral and written evidence from both sides and recommended the separation of Avwrka. Urhobo traditional rulers. under the auspices of the Orodje of Okpe, Orhorho 1, mobilised the Southern Delta Traditional Rulers Forum along with some Urhobo Ivie and went to Asaba. That Forum halted Kefas, hence the white Paper N0. 1 of 1996 rejected the splitting of Avwraka. It does not matter the situation the Avwraka matter fell into, later, as discussed above. If the Orodje were to come back today, he would congratulate Ekeh for his action and the stand he has taken on Mosogar. I have not expressed an opinion. I am saying that only outsiders can have a clear and unbiased view in what is occurring in Idjerhe and Mosogar.


The Uncontested “Act” of Creating Mosogar “kingdom’


Since the Omenes are falsifying history, you can never tell how they would, tomorrow, put the actual creation of Mosogar into that history. The outsiders need the facts before the Omenes start twisting or polishing them. It was announced on September 28, 2006. It was a surprise to many people. The member representing Ethiope west in Delta State House of Assembly (DSHA), Hon. A.O. Akpomiemie, later moved a motion that Government’s act was irregular. The House saw reason and referred the matter to the committee on LG  chieftaincy affairs, presided over by Hon. Ovie Agas, for evidence and public hearing. All of a sudden, unseen hands made the House  suspend its own rules and stopped the Agas Committee. Ibori had in a letter dated October 30, 2006, turned his announcement to a bill and passed it to the DSHA. After it had restrained its own committee, the full House read the bill for the second time on 22nd November 2006. Six days later, November 28, it passed the Bill. With the rush and non-hearing, it was clear that both the DSHA and Ibori did not want to listen to the Idjerhe people. A suit (HCH/50/2006) was filed at the Oghara High Court (OHC) to restrain Governor Ibori not to attend to any Bill from the House on the creation. Justice D.C. Maidoh of the OHC signed the order on November 20, 2006. It was served, thereafter, at the Government house, Asaba. Ibori ignored and flouted that court order and signed Mosogar Clan into existence on December 6, 2006. Outsiders would be right to wonder why the traditional and developmental leadership in Idjerhe, between late December 2006 and January 2007, withdrew that case from court.


Future Rifts


Mosogar requires, by the developmental pace shown by Omene, more than swimming pools and a big palace. Wealth creation there is high. It would need to care for the travel desires of the many rich people there. By the time Mosogar finishes with rejoicing  over how Ibori “dealt” with Idjerhe, land might become scarce; it would come for land expansion at the “border” with Idjerhe. Sure. It may be settled with the blood of people. But the Iboris would have gone under, not to hear the cries of people. These would have been issues a commission of Inquiry should look at before making recommendations.


Omene should have addressed the issues raised by the Urhobo Historical Society instead of attacking the person of Prof. P. P. Ekeh. For the glory of Chief Omene, I remind him that in the timetable of the Heavenly Father, the 101 storey-building in New York, USA, prophesised before it was built, would be brought down. Chief James O. Ibori saw the Idjerhe people as an ant to be killed. He knew that if he applied the broom, the ant might survive. He used a sledge hammer. The Idjerhe people want to pick the pieces of their life and continue to live. Will the Joe Omenes allow them to breathe?