A BRIEF HISTORY OF UGBOJU PEOPLE , CENTRAL NIGERIA .
Ugboju is a district in Benue south inhabitanted by Idoma speaking people. It is bordered in the north by Adoka, south by Onyagede,Oglewu and Otukpo. East by Tiv people of Gwer West local government and west by Igala people of Ankpa local government.
The word Ugboju is derived from the Igala word “Ugbo” and “Oju” in reference to the “Oju” people who lived in the region before the Idoma people.
The father of Ugboju is Edor, son of Idoma. He left Apa about 500 years ago following wars from their Northern neighbors referred to as “efu onya or horse wars” with other Idoma people who arrived at Abinsi before moving to this location with his sons at present day Ogoli. Ugboju people are among the first Idoma settlers.
Edor had three children; Ogah, Akogwu-Omaga and Ogakwu. Ogakwu died of accident while riding his horse and Akogwu-Omaga left his father to Agatu where he founded Ugboju Ube(Ugboju-Ai-Omaga).
Ogah had one son Oko. Oko had one son Ejaba-Idede, father of modern Ugboju.
Ejeba-Idede had three children; Oko, Ogwu and Agbaja.
Oko had a son called Ajunwa and left to Orokam where he fathered Nwaba-Oko in Orokam. Ajunwa’s children m Iake up current Ai-Oko super clan in Ugboju otahe today.
Ogwu was so powerful that the women folk began to use Ad’ogwu as their title as opposed to enanji, their original title. His children formed Ai-Ogwu super clan in Ugboju-Otahe today.
Agbaja had many children who make up Ugboju-icho and Ugboju-ehaje. Ugboju ehaje specifically descended from the first son of Agbaja called Ejika, who left Ugboju-Icho to Ugboju-Ehaje to stop encroachment by foreigners.
Agbaja was the first beaded chief of Ugboju. He was chosen and sent to Idah like many Idoma chiefs of his time to get the Royal beads (Oka) for Ugboju and was escorted back with slaves, horses, umbrella, drummers amidst trumpet blast.
Ejeba-Idede also had a daughter called Enogwu who is the mother of Ofiloko. Ofiliko and Oduda remained the only Ugboju people with the power to bead Och’Ugboju while the Chieftaincy is rotated between the three clans of Oko, Ogwu and Agbaja.
The “horse war” came again 200 years ago but did not displace the people. It was said that a big tree fell across the horse riders’ path in Ugboju ehaje which turned the battle in their favour making their female folks to change their title to “oy’oha” after the Aha tree except Ai-Okpetu who maintened Ad’Ogwu because they came to Ugboju-Ehaje after war.
The male retained their title of “Obande” from APA to Modern times.
Ugboju became politically fragmented after the war with a chief at Ogoli, Efeyi, Ilaba and Ondor. It was Onyilo, the chief at Ondor who gave his daughter Einye to Onah, one of the fathers of Otukpo.
After the British pacified Agatu and Adoka leaving trails of destruction between 1899-1911, they were stopped by Ugboju resistant fighters under the leadership of Chief Amanyi Ogobeche of Ombi. In 1912, Amanyi was captured and deported to Keffi and an “Abakpa” made the district head after it’s unification. Ameh Oyija, the Alapa continued the fight. The attacked that followed resulted in killings of many Abakpa and British commanders barely escaped. They added Ugboju to Ankpa division of Munshi province with headquarters at Ankpa before joining it with Okpoga division and later uniting all Idoma except Alago and Iyalla with headquarters at Otukpo
Amanyi was recalled and reinstated as Chief and district head of Ugboju. After his death,Chief Iduh reigned and the “Ojira k’aoche”(Idoma council of Chiefs) was changed to Idoma native authority with Ujor as the head.He was to become the Ochidoma but abdicated for the younger och’Adoka Alegwu Ogiri Oko. After his death,Chief Idu reigned,after him, Ahmadu Ogwu reigned. This period was marked with great advancement in development including construction of roads, markets, squares and missionary activities became vigorous.
After the Nigerian independence, Ugboju faced some challenges. The greatest of which was a chieftaincy tussle known as “the Inanjo versus Ogoligo crisis” which matched the “Egiri crisis” of Adoka.
The current Och’Ugboju is HRH Chief Solomon Apochi
Ugboju has produced prominent people like Professor Vincent Garba Okwu, Col. Anthony Ochefu and his wife,Mami who created the first “Mami market” in Nigeria, Justice Eko, Dr Innocent Onu, Evang. Peter Owoicho Otulu, Ambassador Dickson Akor among others.
The culture of Ugboju is similar to other Idoma people, observing Alekwu Afia, annual Ejalekwu festivals, worship of Owo, Aje, Enyanwu, Anjenu and observed Ekwu nokwu in the form of Achukwu.
Masquerades include Ibo, odumu, okpojor, akatakplakpla and they perform during festivals while Onyonkpo and Ikpokwu doubles as community police. There are dances like oglinye, odumu, adumanyi, ogba, ichicha, aja, ichahoho, ogala and others although modernization and Christianity has reduced most cultural practices
Oral history obtained from Mr Thomas Ejembi Ogah, Mr. Ajibo an elder of Efeyi, Och’Ugboju’s Ejalekwu narrative of the genealogy of Ugboju 2019, Alekwu chant of Ugboju at rite of passage of Elder Isama Ochinokwu at Igaluwa, Prof. V.G Okwu; Idoma under colonial rule.
Prof. Idris O.O Amali; Alekwu poetry as a source of historical reconstruction. John Ankeli Audu: The root tree of Idoma/Ugboju