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Colonial Advent

Author: smith on 16-09-2013, 22:00, views: 4 018


Let it be admitted at the outset, that European brains, capital and energy have not been, and never will be expended in developing the resources of Africa from motives of pure philanthropy; that Europe is in Africa for the mutual benefit of her own industrial classes.
(Lord F. D. Lugard, The Dual Mandate, 1926: 617)

The period 1850-1899 witnessed the advent of British colonial rule in Ikot Abasi. From 1850 to 1884 the British colonial agents - traders and consuls - introduced a foreign court and a foreign legal system in Ikot Abasi and imposed informal British colonial hegemony on the area through the presence of gunboats along the coast (Ina, 1989). After the declaration of the Niger District Protectorate in 1885, which was defined as the territories on the lines of the coast between the British Protectorate of Lagos and the right or west bank of the Rio del Rey, as well as the territories of both banks of the Niger from its confluence with the River Benue at Lokoja to the sea, as well as the corridor on both banks .of the Benue, from the confluence up to and including Ibi (London Gazette, June 5, 1985), Britain became more interested in the whole of the Oil Rivers area. Under the Oil Rivers Protectorate (1891-1892) and the Niger Coast Protectorate (1893-1899), a systematic subjugation and administration of the area was undertaken.


In the 1890's. the usual 25 men military escort was inadequate to arrest a man charged with murder in the Kwa country, if the town was hostile and refused to give him up. A proper escort of 95 men and a Maxim gun tackled the issue more effectively.
(Talbot, 1923: 183)
Travelling Commissioner, Major A. G. Leonards crossed the country from Opobo to Eket on the east and to Bende on the north, with annual military patrols and pacifying expeditions. During one of them, he issued by the Qua Ibo District chiefs an ultimatum to meet him by 2 o'clock that same afternoon, and when no Ibibio chief turned up, hoisted a red flag and declared war on the people.
The north-east districts of Opobo were known to be exceedingly unruly and turbulent. 9 villages were destroyed. 175 others subdued and 1.000 guns surrendered there.
(Talbot, 1926, vol. 1: 185, 208)
In 1895, Eket District Office was opened by Mr. A. C. Douglas, who was transferred to Opobo with 4 court messengers, one marine boy and an interpreter, and who eagerly threw himself into the foray with the sporting Ibibio tribes.
(A. C. Douglas, in Talbot, 1923: 169-170)

In 1892, Opobo and Ikot Abasi were constituted into a Vice Consulate or Administrative District with headquarters at Norah Beach. Under Williams Cairn Armstrong, effective administration was set up in the district, the Kwa court was established, and law and order maintained.


From 1895 to 1899, various field forces of the Niger Coast Protectorate from Opobo, Eket and Ukat had subdued the hinterland areas of Ikot Abasi and brought them into the new district (Ibid. 19-80). As part of the colonial policy for establishing law and order, a Native Council was established in the district to judge cases. Thus, before colonial rule was imposed formally on Southern Nigeria in 1900, Ikot Abasi had already come under British colonial control and administration.

Establishment of British Rule in Ikot Abasi Area
1830's-1840's Captain W. Allen charts the coast and the river estuaries.
1849 British Consul appointed on the Bight to regulate trade and protect British interests. Visits the rivers from Fernando Po.
1862 First European traders from Bonny visit Essene market.
1867 British traders explore Imo River markets and encourage Jaja to resettle there.
1870 British ships move to trade with Jaja at Opobo, despite consular objection.
1873 British warships enforce the signing of peace/trade treaty with Opobo. Imo River markets controlled by Jaja.
1875 Consul Hartley sails through the creeks from Bonny to Opobo to deliver a royal present to King Jaja.
1885 British Protectorate proclaimed over the Oil Rivers.
Consular visitation to Opobo. European traders proceed to upriver markets. Jaja blocks the creeks and breaks their price cartel.
1887 Consul Johnston explores Opobo River, visits Essene and Ohambele markets to obtain factory sites. Local resistance causes British naval operation against Opobo; King Jaja deported; Opobo proclaimed a Consular District.
1888-1889 Anaang chiefs block the river route; Essene refuses treaty;
Naval blockade of Opobo - fines, and confiscation of Opobo war canoes, cannons and guns.
1890 Consul Annesley visits Opobo and Urua Essen; warns chiefs on free trade; regulates the Governing Council on the Opobo River.
1891 1892 Vice Consulate established on Opobo River. Military visits to Essene and Azumini markets.
Vice Consul W. C. Armstrong, military post, customs and Consular Court based on Norah Beach, below Opobo. NDP church established at Opobo Town.
1893 Administrative reorganisation: Niger Coast Protectorate; Opobo Division enlarged to include Ibibio, Anaang, Ogoni, Andoni (Obolo) and Ndoki territory.
1894 Roger Casement marches from Ikot Nnung Assang (Essene) to Okorosan (Awa) on Qua Iboe River; hostile population.
1895-99 Annual military patrols and pacifying expeditions to the Qua Iboe and
Anaang areas, subduing and burning down villages. Troops stationed at Essene
1896 Major Leonards penetrates upriver from Opobo to Bende.
1898 Government station, customs and post office built at Norah Beach.
1899 August Tracing of Opobo-Essene-Ukam-Awa road to Eket.
Serious opposition at Ukpum Minya - Government surveyor killed.
Punitive military expedition: Ikot Etefia demolished with canon fire; 19 settlements
destroyed and 175 captured, 1,000 guns collected and 9.000 others stamped.
Large force defeats the North-east Ikpa. Peace treaty signed with Eket.
1900 Protectorate of Southern Nigeria established.
1901 Opobo runners service on Opobo-Eket road.
April 25-May 25 Consul General Moor tours the area; addresses representatives of 28 Kwa towns at Essene on slave dealing. Aro Field Force sweeping operations by flying columns in Opobo hinterland and mass naval blockade of the river. Chief Akpanya of Ibekwe blocks all inland routes to Essene and other markets.
Oct.-Nov. Military column sent from Opobo, via Essene, against Chief Akpanya; his headquarters burnt down. Ikot Ntot and 934 guns captured; the chief deported.
1902 Military detachments march through Eket, Ubium and Ibekwe.
Ibiaku and North east Ikpa subdued. Native court established at Essene market.
Whydah and Dayspring trading hulks stationed at Egwanga.
1903 The Government Station moved to Egwanga, followed by trade firms. Ibibio country is disciplined and brought under control; Eket subdued
1903-5 1904 387-men Northern Ibibio patrol marches between the Imo and Cross Rivers, meets considerable opposition by hostile tribes; military operation through the Anaang area of Opobo District.
Punitive expedition against Andoni (Obolo). Yok Obolo shrine at Ngo destroyed, territory joined to Opobo Division.
1904-5 1906 WAFF column visits Ikot Ekpene, Ikono, Ibiono and Uyo areas of the Opobo District; villages burnt. Native court at Ikot Ekpo - boycotted and closed down.
Amalgamation of the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria and the Colony of Lagos. Patrols in Inen and Anaang areas, arms collected and the country reduced to order.
1907 Military patrol sent in Anaang area after the killing of two court messengers, meets stiff resistance: Abak area had to be dealt with for joining with Afaha Obong towns. Native court at Ekparakwa.
1909 Repeated military patrols to Ikot Abasi, Ikot Ikpetim. Ikot Obong, Ikot Essien, Ikot Okpo Ata, Ikot Etok, Ikot Ikpo Inua, Ikot Etenge Ete, Essene, Ikot Akai, Okon, Ikot Akpan Inen. Minya, Ikot Ekpok, Ikot Abia, Ikot Okam, Ikot Edim, etc. Trade at Qua Iboe markets upset by military operations.
1910 Police escort in Ogoniland. Arrest of ringleaders.
1911 Military escort marches through Uyo area.
1912 The Imo country patrolled; disturbances at Eket; Ogoniland subjugated and added to Opobo Division
1913 Native court at Ogoni.
1914 Abak and Ikot Ekpene chiefs swear mbiam oath to defend the land against the intruders; defeated and subjugated.
Sources: Ann. Reps.; Casement 1894; Cheesman 1932; Asiegbu, 1984; Ejituwu 1991; Jaja 1991; Johnston 1888; Talbot 1915, 1923: 185, 208, 189, etc.

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Category: Colonial Experiences

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