The History of Igarra People

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Last update June 29, 2020


This group consists of two (2) electoral wars 01amd 02 which further consist of the following communities: Okoreba and Okoruvete, otherwise referred to as the ancient igarra-sale which form ward (01) while Uttua Uffa and Akuku make up the ward (02). The five communities are called Igarra /Akuku clan with the headship being the Otaru of Igarra.


According to Archives records,Igarra was founded by emigrant from Idah, disappointed claimant to the post of Atth. He and his supporter brought with them a large bell and drums said to be parts of the insignia of that office. They settled first on the ridge and caves of the hills, to the immediate west of the village

According Oba Emmanuel Adache Saiki II the Otaru of Igarra and the crown head of Igarra/Akoko clan. “Our forefathers migrated from the North. The founder of Igarra, Ariwo Ovejijo, came from Idah to Igarra around the 14th century. The original name of Igarra is Etuno because when our forefathers got here, they met the original inhabitants who were dwarfs. Their king was Uno, who became friends with our forefather (Ovejijo) and they lived together. But after some time, Uno decided to give way for our forefathers. There are reasons for that but I cannot go into the details now. Etuno is named after the king that we met here; that was the name of the aborigines that we met here. His name was Uno. Ete in Igarra means land, so we call it Eteuno which means the land of Uno. However, when the Europeans came and they asked us where we came from, we told them we were from Igala. So they called us Igala which was pronounced as Igarra; that is the name we have been bearing since then. But the original name of where we are now is Etuno “.

The rocks surround Igarra. When our forefathers got here, it was during the era of the slave trade when people were being kidnapped and sold into slavery. Our forefathers then used the rock as their hiding place, a form of security and protection against attacks, and used the surrounding lands for farming activities. So they would come down during the day to farm and then retire inside the cave in the rock in the evening to hide from marauders”.


Idah in Kogi State; one of our idols here, Idah-Koriko, is still found in Igala, around River Niger, up till now. It was when Ariwo Ovejijo, the founder of Igarra, was coming from Idah that he took some soil from that rock and put it down here. We also call it Idah-Koriko. That is one of the idols that we worship here. You can also find the same idol in Idah. Ariwo Ovejijo was a prince of Idah and his father was the king. It was when he was not allowed to ascend the throne of his father that he decided to come this way and establish Igarra”.

Another report says Igarra people migrated from the Kwararafa confederacy of the Junkun kingdom of Wukari in the present Taraba state of Nigeria in about the 21 st century to Idah, in the present Kogi state. They lately migrated from Idah about the year 1400. They were led by Ariwo Ovejijoh, who is said to be a disappointed claimant to the post of Atta of Igala land, having co-inhibited with the Igala/Okpoto union with his followers, for over three centuries. After Idah, Ariwo Ovejijoh and his followers were said to have stayed briefly at Ajaokuta before migrating west wards from there to the present place called Etuno. However, some of his followers remained at Ajaokuta settlement, but lately came to Igarra Etuno as families to join their Kit and kin. When Igarra people migrated to this present place originally known as Etuno, they met a group of people called ANAFUA, ANIVA and ANDAKONI. They were headed by a man known as “UNO, these people were the aborigines of Etuno kindred. Most of them were later exterminated by Igarra people warfare while the remaining few ones fused into some kindred and pledged their loyalty to the Igarra king. Etuno means the land of “UNO” it is a derivative name from the said leader of the aborigines “UNO”. Ete means land in Igarra dialect while UNO was the name of the leader of the first occupiers of aborigines of Etuno land. It is a common practice that a place is named from a physical feature or after a person as first occupier, settler or the leadership in the place. The Igarra people settled first at the root of the Kukuruku Hills, but later moved to the ridge and caves of the hills, because of intertribal war. Some of the people moved down to the present site in 1911 and the remainder in1917, when the intertribal wars were ended.

The Nupes captured the village and imposed tribute, leaving “ajele” to oversee its collection.

After the fall of the Nupes some of the people (Igarra sale) moved down to the present location in 1911 and the remainder (Igarra-Oke) in 1917, when their houses in the hill were burnt by the District commissioner.


According to High Chief Ojo High Chief Gabriel Olorunfemi Ojo, the Oshemdase,Oorenyi of Igarra,  Igarra is divided geographically into two (2) parts Igarra-sale at mile 95 and Igarra- Oke at mile 94 on the Agbor-Okene road. Each has two territorial quarters those of Igarra-Sale being called Okoruvete and Okoreba and those of Igarra-Oke Uffa and Uttua

The people are divided into fourteen (14) families sections each of which are found in all four (4) quarters  which  are called (a) Andele (b)Eshinagada (c)Eshinogu (d)Eshinavaka (e) Andida (f)Eziakutu (g) Ezioga (h)Eziodu (i)Eziakozi (j)Anoverewa (k)Anonyere (l)Anona (m)Eshimozoko (n)Anoseri

It appeared division were the direct result of the removal of the village to its present site in 1911and 1917, but the people affirm that this arrangement is an ancient one.


According to HRH Oba E.A. Saiki the Otaru of Igarra and archives records, in the olden days Igarra people practice a system of marriage where the parents go out to look for suitors and wife for their children. They have to look at the family background before deciding whether to go forward or not. In those days the girls were  betrothed between the ages of seven (7) and eight (8) years and were  expected to move to their husbands  house as soon as they experience their first menstruation flow. However, this is no longer applicable as a result of civilization.

The current bride price in the two groups in Igarra is 1000 naira and 2000 respectively.

The 1000 naira is paid as dowry in EZIEZU family group in Igrra which comprises of the (a) Andele (b)Eshinagada (c)Eshinogu (d)Eshinavaka (e) Andida which happens to be the ruling family kindreds according to HRH Oba E.A Saiki.the Otaru  of Igarra.

2000 naira for other nine (9) families that make up fourteen families which comprises of the Ezidowo, Anonyete, Anona, Eshimozoko and Anoseri group of families  known as the (a)Eziakutu (b) Ezioga (c)Eziodu (d)Eziakozi (e) Anoverewa (f)Anonyere (g)Anona (h)Eshimozoko (i)Anoseri.

Marriages in Igarra do not give any preferential treatment to indigenes and is not based on the class of the person to be married but it depends on the choice of the parties involved.


Their traditional dressing is Shokoto. Buba  and Agbada. They also have cloth for different kinds of ceremonies. However, there are HAND WOVEN CLOTHS made by the Igarra females, usually used for specific ceremonies like the  Irepa, Azi, burial and marriage ceremonies . These hand woven clothes are locally called: Itive, lbanku. Anyere. Itaresufa and ltishezi.


According to the book title Igarra by Pita Onaivi and Femi Okuo Igarra speak Etuno which is the same with Ibirra and Kontokarfi. They share no linguistic affinity with any of her neighbours.


Igarra people have numerous delicacies but most commonly consumed one is UKA. This is a delicacy that is made from mixed cassava flour and corn flour put together in boiling water and turned. It is normally taken with varieties of soup.

Another important delicacy to note is called APAPA-EBATU. This is also called llazo in other villages in Akoko Edo Local Government Area. APAPA EBATU is made up of Bean cake which is the Apapa and mixed vegetable soup dominated by (Ebatu) (garden egg). Hence the compound name APAPA_EBATU meaning beans cake with Ebatu soup.


Igarra people are mainly farmers they cultivate crops for both consumptions and cash. They grow crops like cocoa, groundnut, yam cassava, beans palm produce, banana and maize etc People come from far and near to buy some of those crops at Igarra main market.

Clan Headship

A according Oba Emmanuel Adache Saiki II is the Otaru of Igarra   “In Igarra, we have five ruling houses. Ariwo Ovejijo had six children; five boys and a girl. The Otaru stool is rotated among the five male children of Ariwo Ovejijo. The children then were Andede , Eshinagaga, Eshinogu, Eshinavaka and Andiba. These are the five male children that form the five ruling houses in Igarra. However, the female one has a role to play in the enthronement of Otaru and the role is that whenever an Otaru is nominated, she will be the one to crown him. Awovi was the only female child of Ariwo Ovejijo; her children crown the Otaru anytime a new Otaru is installed”

This has generated a lot of controversy from other families groups and their heads among those who are against this system of selecting the clan head is High Chief Gabriel Olorunfemi Ojo, the Oshemdase, Oorenyi of Igarra, who claimed  to be the traditional rulers of their family group. The group and the traditional title they  are claiming  are as follow :

I . Ezidowo                  The Oshidu of Igarra

2. Anonyete                 The Osherndase Oorey in ofI garra

3. Mona                       The Otu of lgarra

4. Eshimozoko             The Oshemi Onayinmi of Igarra

5. Anoseri                   Nil but have a sub title called Emmah


Apart  from Christian and Islamic religions. Traditional Religion is widelyPracticed in Igarra.


Among the popular shrines in Igarra are:

(a) ldakonko Shrine

(b) IdowoorAsawu Shrine

(c) Inyama Shrine

(d) Opete Shrine

(e) Okute Shrine

(f) Ubauru Shrine

And other different deities


In the olden days, civil/criminal matters were tried by the chief priest and members of the title age grades sitting in the open in the quarter where the dispote arose. All civil, matrimonial cases including adultery and all crimes except murder, manslaughter and arson could be settled by head of the families concerned. In debt cases enforcement is done by granting permission to the creditor to seize a goat the value of which must be claimed by the owner from the debtor still applicable now. Complainant were required to pay hearing  fees according to the amount claimed or the gravity of the offence and successful litigant were expected to give 1/3 of the judgment sum to the presiding judges.

Crimes were punished as follows

(¡)   Murder: By self hanging in the market

(¡¡)  Arson: By burying the offender alive

(¡¡¡) Assault: By fine and compensation according to circumstances

(¡v) Theft: By option of fine, however this varies according to the things stolen

(v)  Manslaughter : By compensation of one or two slaves to the deceased family  

(v¡) Adultery :By compensation of a dog, a goat, cock, hen, a snail, a tortoise and pigeon to the husband.


There are many traditional festivals that is held at Igarra like; ENU (YAM) Festival, ECHIETE, AZI, IPOJE, AZEBANI, EKWOCHI, ABBA festival.

Enu (Yam) Festival: This festival is celebrated after the first new yam has been harvested.

This is to enable all farmers in Igarra to boast of matured yams in their respective farms. The preparation of the Yam Festival starts with the harvest of the first new yam. This takes place about June with the descendants of Ekuku from Eziakuta

or Ireshiobani perform the rite of releasing the guinea corn for planting.

Agidigo drum is sounded at Ajuveni (around the second cock crow) to inform the Igarra community within Igarra. The farmer then goes to their farms with their guinea corn. As the guinea corn is being planted, so the new yam is being harvested. This is an opportunity to show gratitude and extension of it to

neighbours and relations in the gifts of yams. This is symbolic of the extension

of the abundance that God has granted the farmer in harvest.

The Abba/ Irepa festival: This festival is held every six (6) years, which marks the graduation of the age group into a higher level . This festival is a crowning festival his usually held in the month of August of every seven (7) lunar years. During this festival, there are two native ancient drums that are beaten by the EZIAKUTAS family , this is so because they inherited it from their  fore-father . These two drums are regarded as male and female and once they are beaten the celebrants are expected to dress in white and dance to the old market square, (Ofumamo) along Somorika road .Igarra.

Abba/Irepa festival

Only the custodians of the drum stood on the rock where the drum is beaten. It is a taboo for any stranger to get close to the drum.

After dancing to the beguiling rhythms of Aba drum, every family in Igarra takes their friends and visitors home to eat pounded yam signaling the end of the festival until another six years.

According the Otaru of Igarra, His Royal Highness, and Oba Emmanuel Adeche Saiki “Celebrating the Irepa festival where the Aba drum dance takes place. The Irepa festival is celebrated once every seven years according to our local calendar, but it is six years in the normal calendar. And the Aba drum is one of the events that are the highlight”.

The significance of Aba drum is that Igarra is ruled through the age groups. It is during the Irepo festival where the Aba drum is played that a new age group comes up and all other age groups move to the next level. This Opoze age group members, who are the celebrants for this very Aba drum dance, will now graduate to the council of elders, then a new age group will come up·.

Each of these age groups, they all have their responsibilities in the community. The senior is called the Opoze group and they are the ones graduating into the council of elders. The main duty of Opoze group is to control all other groups under them and also enforce any law passed by the community.”

Asked if sacrifices were usually made to herald the ceremony, HRH Saiki stated: “No sacrifice is made, but when we discover any problem or challenges in the community, we embark on some sacrifices to stop such challenges. We immediately take actions that will appease our ancestors which is normal. I will say that the Aba drum is as old as Igarra itself. It has been long. The drum is special because all the age groups must dance to this drum.”

The Akuta of Igarra, Chief Charles Shanu Aiyelabola, who is the chief custodian of the Aba drum, being the eldest son of the Eziakuta Opoporiku family, said “the drum signifies age grouping in the town. We have six age groups in the community. We have one between 19-21 years, we call the youths who belong to this category Obofafo, and they are errand boys”.

Another one, we call them the age groups that dig graves; the next one is the one that dresses the corpses, that is their duty. We have the Opoga group, when they are promoted, they call them Opoze. This Opoze are the lawmakers in this town and whatever laws they make are taken by all the groups. I started beating this drum in 2011. I am the custodian because I am the head of the family that keeps the drum.”

Aiyelabola disclosed”And you cannot beat the drum unless you are a bonafide member of the family. The protection of this drum comes from God, the drum is sacred. Nobody can bring out this drum before the six years interval. I feel happy that I am alive to witness it after six years. After it is beaten, it returns to its home and nobody can see it again, only the custodians and the custodians cannot go there without any reason. Like I said it is a sacred drum.”

Azi festival:  This festival is celebrated virtually on daily basis by grandparents      who have their first grandchild. They dance, sing beat the instruments if any, round the village with other group of people to show appreciation to God for the new grandchild. This festival is celebrated only in Igarra.

Inyama festival: The word Inyama means commerce. This festival is celebrated bythe Anonyete community. It is celebrated on Ube market day and around the end of May annually. The Anonyete family gathers around the shrine to offer prayers for moderate rainfall during farming season, bountiful farm harvest and successful trading for traders within the year.

During the festival the chief priest Oshinyama in the company of priest inyama, the Oshemdase  Ooreyin go into the shrine and come out with a bowl of  cowries, which the Oshemdase throws to the crowd at random, people scramble to pick the cowry which they keep in the place of their choice as a token of vow  that if the god grant them success in their prayers, they will come back with their gift to show appreciation and a fulfill their pledge . Only inyama drum are beaten during the festival. There are merriment that go with the festival.

Ekawochi festival: It comes up in two parts, first one comes up in the later part of Novermber  while the second part comes up in December period . This is a borrowed festival from Ibira speaking kith and kin people of Okene in kogi state . It is intwo forms the first is that of Ekwochi dance which is only seen by men, and the other is a masquerade festival which is for all, in this particular case the people sing and and others echo along side with the rhythms. This festival is an annual event.

Echitete festival: This is a special festival whereby unions, association and clubs converge at a venue selected for that purpose in one artire to celebrate . This festival is done to mark the remembrance of ancestors and the departure loved ones.

Ubete festival: This is a festival that is done annually, which is announced by  Otaru. During this festival every indigene of Igarra in that community is prohibited from going to work in the farm with or metals tools of any sort. It’s an event to mark the independence of Igarra.

Customs and norms in Igarra

Whenever Igarra are celebrating Enuh, the new yam festival, it is forbidden for anyone to use farm instruments like cutlass and hoe or even see them during the period. It is believed that if you violate the taboo, he will not have a good harvest the following year because Igarra are predominantly an agrarian community

It is a taboo for any stranger to get close to the Aba drum.

It is a taboo in Igarra for a son and daughter of the same family group to marry or have a carnal knowledge of each other for instance the Eziakozi family can’t marry themselves, but they can marry from other family.

Land Ownership

-Land is shared among the families.


-No transfer of land can be done without the consent of the family that  owns the land.

Different traditional music and cultural dance in  Igarra are:-























Igarra is the Headquarter of Akoko-Edo Local Government are . The land is blessed with many mineral resources such as lime stones, granites, etc and are presently been tapped by some mining companies in Igarra, invitation are still open for interested investors in this area.

Igarra is also blessed with potential tourist attraction such as rocks, hills of various shapes and sizes

However, they are peace loving very friendly and accommodating people

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