By DR.CHRISTOPHER .G. OKOJIE, OFR, DSc (Hon)
It will serve a useful purpose to remember right at the onset that there are two parts to every Esan district: the royal family and the common people. They were quite distinct, for nearly all the ancient ruling houses came from Benin City or its suburbs. The head of the ruling houses was and still is, the ONOJIE, who with his family, servants and brothers inhabited EGUARE, the administrative CAPITAL of the district. Another important thing an enquirer must take notice of is the use of the word BROTHER by Esan people. It can mean anything from a male blood relation to a very good friend. Secondly OBA's SON can mean a BINI and, in fact, it was recently, a common thing for any Bini, outside the city, to describe himself as the OBA's SON!
Ugun is the youngest amongst the clans making up the 1950 Southwest Federation. Its first settlement, the present Eguare (pop. 423 in 1953) was not in existence until about the middle of the 19th century, a few years before the mass arrival of refugees from EZEN came to convert the humble settlement into a district of its own.
ERAIN, one of the ambitious sons of Ohonsi, the respected Onojie of Ogwa, founded the original settlement of Ugun, shortly after the death of his father in 1845.
2. UKEKIIOLO was the very first village that grew up round Erain's settlement. Many of the founders were the Ezen refugees rendered homeless by the ravages of the Amaho War of 1853. Some immigrants arrived from Uromi. Others were from Ibi near Agbor founded AGO BOO while later arrivals, mostly from Ekpoma, founded AGO OLA.
3. IMMEDIATE PAST ONOJIE:
Ehijiator I who became Onojie in 1929 died on the 3rd of November, 1973. His first son and heir, Prince James Oboh, after performing the burial ceremonies of his father, ascended the Ugun throne in 1973 as EHUIATO II although there was some ten months interregnum which was filled by his junior maternal brother, since the heir had left home since 1948.
The following document signed by Prince Alfred E. Ehijiator, the maternal brother - explains:-
"AN APPLICATION OF HANDING OVER THE ONOGIESHIP THRONE OF UGUN TOWN
I, Mr. Alfred E. Ehijiator who have became the Regent for His Highness, Chief James Oboh, E. Ehijiator have whole-heartedly handed over the Onogieship throne of Ugun Town to the rightful owner who left home since 1948.
This application conceals the Oath of Onogieship I took in the High Court, Ubiaja on 22nd May, 1974.
I have now handed over the Onogieship to the above rightful owner His Highness Chief James, Oboh E. Ebijiator and signed honourably without duress.
Below are the signature of Witnesses:-
(I) Chief Oriri Obaze, the Ihaza of Ugun
(2) Chief Okpoko Ailagbonfo - the Oshodin
(3) Chief Omosegho Osagie - The Elo
(4) Chief Adodo Ijebor - The Adolor
(5) Chief Aituegbebhunun Ogbeide - the Esogban
(6) Chief Ebe Isimhenze - the Uangue
(7) Chief Ebhojie Ijebor - the Obaluyiedo
(8) And Mr. Obomhese Obaze, the Odionwere
(9) Chief Aghedo Ijebor - the Osula
A copy to:-
(1) The Resident, Military governor's Office, Ubiaja
(2) The Chairman, Divisional Council, Ubiaja
(3) High Court, Ubiaja
(4) The P. F. O, Ubiaja
(5) Military Governor's Office, Benin City
(6) Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Benin
(7) The Onojie of Irrua, Irrua
(8) And the Onojie of Ewohimi, Ewobimi".