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Story of The Most Powerful King in Nigerian history who took his own life

OmoBabaFrydey 2d

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HRM Attah Ameh Oboni was born in 1911 in present-day Kogi province, in a village near Ugwolawo. He was three months old when Attah Oboni Akwu Odiba, his father, died. Attah Ameh Oboni made frequent pronouncements, all of which came to pass. He announced that anyone with leprosy would be cured. As he said, this occurred because there are no cases of the disease reported in the kingdom of Igala to this day. It was known in those days that he ordered hawks and kites to return stolen chicks, which they did. He cursed wild animals such as wolves who come to villages daily to steal away children and sleeping adults, never to come back to Igala territory, and that was the last time wolves were seen in the kingdom of Igala. There was a time when Attah Ameh Oboni was invited to Nsukka for a meeting, and when he and his supporters approached the bridge where he was to cross, he was informed that the ferry was going to carry his car across the river. He quickly told his driver to drive with his eyes closed on the water so that they would not be late for the conference, and they safely crossed over.

In certain times, if anyone misbehaved or broke a rule, he has the right to decide what would happen to such an individual either to disrespect him as the "Attah" or to disobey the laws of the land and whatever he said to such an individual has always happened. Everybody thought he had powers like that. He was a true traditional African monarch, hated by many, even beyond his kingdom's borders. The stool of the Attah has multiple do's and don'ts, and no matter the circumstance, when each of them defaulted, has their effect, these customs should never be comprised. Attah Igala, for example, does not see a dead body, does not see an infant less than three months old, does not shake hands with mothers, does not remove his cap in public or people's presence, etc.

Unfortunately, some of these laws could create some problems for Attah Ameh Oboni later on. Attah Ameh was compelled to remove his cap to welcome the Queen of England, as some had done, during an annual meeting held in Kaduna consisting of all the paramount traditional rulers in Nigeria and attended by the Queen of England. But, until he was ordered to leave the conference, he declined if he did not remove his hat. Although removing his cap in public was a taboo for the Attah, he did as demanded and honey bees from his cap filled the entire meeting hall. Helter-skelter was run by the Queen of England, as well as other rulers at the conference, except for his uncle, the Oba of Benin, whom he told to go out before he removed his hat. When others were stung by the bees, the hall became empty and the conference ended.

This meeting incident caused many traditional rulers, mainly northerners, to be furious, particularly because of bees, for making kings run in such a way. According to tradition, he was detained and handcuffed by Attah Ameh Oboni, then locked in a room as ordered by the Queen, and guarded only by security forces to find out later that he had vanished from the room. He ordered his driver to take the car and go back home to Idah until he was locked up, and then warned him not to look back until he noticed a cool breeze in the car. The driver returned from Kaduna to Idah and after a while he felt a cold breeze in his vehicle, only to find that the Attah Ameh Oboni was already with him inside the cab.

The previous Oba of Benin, who had such conflict with the British authorities, had already been dethroned and exiled from Benin before this time. The Attah understood that no matter what moral strategy he was implementing from that point on, it could only prolong the day the Queen would dethrone him. Before this time, his enemies in the empire, especially those with ties with the leaders of the northern region, worked hard to acquire information that they could submit as real or false to the British authority that could be used to oust him from the throne.

At the festival ground (Ocho ground), the blood of the animal used as a sacrifice was now what the enemies used against him. Two powerful Igala people wrote a letter to the Queen and some other Northern representatives that during the festivities, Attah Ameh sacrificed human beings. Since they were still hunting for any evidence to oust him, the decision was easily passed that even though any trial was not yet completed, he had to be dethroned.Moreover all Igala cultural festivals were immediately prohibited, and these remained unbanned for more than 60 years until the new Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, based on the current Attah's appeal.

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The product of the blood sample that was collected from the site of the festival and then taken for study to the University of Ibadan was proven to be the blood of an animal and not a human. Sadly, before the outcome, Attah Ameh had committed suicide. The Attah Ameh Oboni was very confident that his opponents, particularly those from Igala who wrote the petition against him were falsely accused and framed by him and he made several comments before his death. He said all people who were interested with the petition against him would have their hands dried up whilst they were still alive, and that the petitioners' chief must have been buried three times. And we all went back to the past. While the hand dried, as he said, their legs were buried first, their hands later, and then they dried up themselves, and they were all buried in different areas at various times.

The Attah chose death over been dethroned for the following reasons:

1.Since being dethroned, any time he dies, he will not be buried again in a royal way.

2. He will be exiled to another land (a strange city) after dethronement, where he will be under the rule of another king. Like the latest case of Kano's former Emir Sanusi, who was sent to a rural village in the state of Nasarawa. Humiliation, aren't they?

3. If he is dethroned, his body will never be taken to Idah for burial, except after his death in the other land, so he will be buried in that land.

4. If he did not die as Attah and buried as Attah, then none of his heirs, beginning with his son, would forever be Attah, as the laws were laid down.

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