HOW ESAN WARRIORS STOPPED FULAN!/NUP€ FROM ISLAMIZ!NG NIGER-DELTA
Before 1824, the dynasty that ruled the Nupe Kingdom was Tsoede Royal Dynasty. Unfortunately, there was a crisis between the Nupe princes as a member of the Tsoede royal family, and it’s emerged after the death of Abdullahi Tinkanko in 1783. The two principal rivals, Jimada and Majia, could not resolve it without inviting foreigners, e.g., The Fulani under Mallam Dendo.
These Fulan! leaders neither helped to settle the quarrel nor found a solution to the civil wars that ensued. Rather, they manipulated the situation to take over power from the two Nup€ princes in 1824. This was how Dendo established a Fulani dynasty that assumed leadership in the area from 1824.
In 1860, B!da under the leadership of the Fulan! adopted a v!olent external policy. An aggressive expansionist policy aimed at the establishment and maintenance of Nupe's control over several lands and ra!ding of sl@ves, particularly Etsako, Owan, Akoko Edo, and other Afemai communities in Northern Edo State. Their primary goal was to c0nquer and annex, Edo North, Esanland, Benin land down to the seacoast of the Niger Delta for their economic and political benefits from about the second half of the nineteenth century.
The army under the leadership of Fulan! princes Umaru Majidi and Maliki supervised the invas!on and c0nquest of Ed0 North in 1860. They were successful in their mission because of some Etsako leaders who assisted the Nup€/Fulan! to ensure their victory over the entire Etsako or Afemai country, due to the necessity of keeping their new titles and position of IZENI or consuls, during this period.
When they were able to establish a leadership structure in Edo North. In 1881, with assistance from r@dicalized Etsako, they invaded Ewu. Ewu was the first place the Fulani att@cked in Esanland and this is due to its proximity to Agbede in Etsako. Which is about 10 kilometers at Ujagbe, which was then part of Ewu. In 1882, they att@cked Idoa, Ukhun, and Uzea looking for sl@ves. At this time, it was imperative there is a need for (Akugbe) unity in Esanland to be able to defeat the (Egbalukpon) the name Esan called Fulani.
Thus, all the kingdoms in Esanland drafted an army through their war captain Okakulo. The military defense alliance was named AKOTA. They were armed with modern weapons, firearms, long barrel guns, Utagbo, Blacksmiths, archers, and juju priests. The AKOTA was positioned across strategic locations in Esanland, including Ehor close to Benin City. The first encounter between the Akota, allied forces, and Fulan!/Nup£+ troops lasted for more than three years. (1894-1897). It was coded Egbalukpon Nell war, meaning ‘the war of the robed ones’, because the Nup€ and their collaborators robed even in war with horses.
This is how the Fulan! were defeated and pushed back to Agbede in Etsako. We will forever remain grateful to our forefathers who laid down their l!ves to defend our territories and civilization. They are the reason why we still bear our ancestral names, Akhigbe, Ojiefoh, Iloube, Okojie, Eromosele, Aigbefoh, etc. Not Muhammed, Jabril, Abdullahi, Abubakar.
The invas!on is not without consequence. The implication is the little Islamic footage you see in Ewu today and some northern Esan Kingdoms mentioned above. Finally, one or two traditional rulers in Esanland converted to Islam over time, not through conquest but voluntarily. For instance, in 1921, the king of Agbede, Akhigbe Momodu converted the Onojie Eromosele of Irrua, to Islam by offering his daughter; princess Ebaaje in marriage.