By S.O. Akobe
The Late Ameh Oboni can arguably be said to be the most popular Attah Igala in Igala history at least, judging from the point of view of how some magical powers and wonders credited to him are being generally talked about and admired. There is hardly any Igala person worthy to be so-called that will not have one story or the other to tell about the magical powers of the late Attah, Ameh Oboni. In fact, some Igala cultural misicians have translated these stories into songs, thereby making them not only memorable but also more convincing and believable. But, did Ameh Oboni actually do all the magic and wonders he was said to have done in his life time? Our analysis herein will answer this questionn in a shortwhile.
Following the dethronement of the Emir of Kano (Muhammed Sanusi Lamido Sanusi) by the Kano State Government on the 9th of March, 2020, a certain story started trending on the social media to the effect that the late Attah Igala, Ameh Oboni, attended a meeting at Kaduna in 1963 and even cursed the then Emir of Kano, which curse has now extended his descendant – the deposed Emir of Kano (Muhammed Sanusi). For the benefit of those who have not come across the said trending story, I shall reproduce same here as copied from a social media platform to wit:
“In April 1963, Emir Mohammed Sanusi I of Kano plotted the dethronement of then Atta of Igala Ameh Oboni (Agaba Idu). The Atta’s offense was his refusal to bow before the Sultan of Sokoto, Chairman of Northern Nigeria Council of Chiefs during the Council’s meeting in Kaduna, capital of Northern Nigeria. Ameh Oboni was given the option to remove his crown and bow or be removed from office. But the Atta was a god and could not bow to any human being. Ameh Oboni knew that by the Igala tradition, the implication of his dethronement was that none of his descendants would ever be allowed to be crowned Atta after him. So he accepted to remove his crown and bow. But the moment he removed his crown, a swam of bees rushed out of his head and chased the chiefs out of their chamber. That ended the plot for that day. Oboni then walked up to Emir Sanusi and told him that, for attempting to remove him from office, he Sanusi would lose his throne before he traveled from Kaduna back to Kano and that any of his descendants that ever ascended the throne would be dethroned. That evening, as Mohammed Sanusi was chauffeured from Kaduna to his palace in Kano, he heard on the car radio of his own dethronement by the Government of Northern Nigeria. Today about 57 years after, Emir Mohammed Sanusi’s grand son Emir Lamido Sanusi II has been dethroned.”
Without going into details, I can boldly confirm that this story is not only untrue but highly misleading. It is on record that the late Ameh Oboni died on 26th August, 1956 through suicide, and was replaced by Alhaji Aliyu Ocheja Obaje as Attah Igala on the 20th of October, 1956. The question therefore, is, since Ameh Oboni died in 1956, how come he (the same late Ameh Oboni) still attended a meeting at Kaduna in 1963 and even cursed the then Emir of Kano at a time he was already resting in peace? Did he resurrect? As a matter of fact, the immediate late Attah Igala (Aliyu Obaje) was the Attah Igala as at 1963 when the alleged magical incident was said to have happened! It therefore, goes without saying that the story making rounds of how Ameh Oboni cursed the then Emir of Kano, is completely false.
I have always said it to people close to me that the magical powers attributed to the late Ameh Oboni are being over-exaggerated. We have been told that Ameh Oboni magically constructed a bridge with stones across one river after Aloma in Ofu L.G. A. We have also been told how he cursed several places like Dekina, Ochaja etc and that these places are backward today because of his curses. In fact, similar stories have it that Coconut trees cannot produce coconuts in Dekina due to Ameh Oboni’ curse, meanwhile I have seen coconut trees with coconuts on them at Dekina! There are places that it has been said that mark of Ameh Oboni’s fingers are visibly seen on rocks! It has also been said that Ameh Oboni in those days used to disappear from his Palace and appear in far places like Kaduna for meetings.
Recently, yours sincerely was told by a man about how Ameh Oboni appeared to a woman who sturbbonly went to fetch firewood from the burial site of the Attahs, which is called “Ojaina”. According to the man, the woman had defied all warnings not to go there and when she eventually entered the place, she unknowingly stepped on Ameh Oboni’s portion of the graveyard and suddenly, the great Ameh Oboni physically appeared and practically caned the defiant woman who he (Ameh Oboni) finally warned never to come there again! Wow!
In the current trending story reproduced above, it was said that Ameh Oboni removed his crown to bow down to the then Emir of Kano as requested of him, and a swam of bees rushed out of his head and chased the chiefs out of their chamber!
Well, while these stories may be told to Igala children who would definitely enjoy it in a moonlit night, the truth is that none of them ever happened in real life. The late Ameh Oboni must have possessed potent charms but he was not as magical as people try to portray him today. I have read a book written by his son (the current Attah Igala) in honour of his father, and none of these concocted stories featured in the said book as part of the magical powers of the late Ameh Oboni. On the contrary, what the current Attah made us to understand about his father in that book is the fact that he was a man of great oratory prowes with special gift of passing his message through deep proverbs and adages. Today, ignorance has made people to go about ascribing to the late Attah Ameh Oboni bloated magical powers which in reality, he neither possessed nor performed in his life time!
(S.O. Akobe, a Lawyer and Poet, writes from Abuja, Nigeria)