Asaba Traditional Government

The Traditional Government and Institutions of Asaba

AGE means chronological age based on the date of birth. Precedence within each category or group of Asaba men in sitting arrangements, taking of shares or breaking of kola nuts depends on age except that the Diokpa of any unit take precedent over his subjects irrespective of his natural age. The Asagba of Asaba, irrespective of his natural age, is regarded as the oldest man in Asaba by virtue of his office. The ceremony of raising his age is accomplished through the ceremony of igo okei (buying or purchasing of seniority), which is a part of the installation process of the Asagba. This Traditional age adjustment gives the Asagba the prerogative of breaking kola nuts in any traditional gathering at which he is present. In traditional meetings and ceremonial occasions, obis and chiefs of Otu-lhaza age grade or younger are grouped with older obis and chiefs respectively by virtue of their titles. It appears that this elevation of obis and chiefs does not confer on them any precedence in the breaking of kola nuts.


AGE GRADE means one of the traditional age grades into which Asaba males are grouped i. e., umu aka (Birth to about 5 years), nziza ezi (about 6-17 years), Okwulagwe (about 18-50years), Ochokoloma (about 51- 60years), Otu-lhaza (about 61-70 years) and Ichi-Okwa (about 71 years and older)

Movement into and out of ochokoloma and Otu-lhaza age grades into the next older age grade occurs every decade. The last movement took place in August 1996 EBO means any one of the five major administrative units of Asaba which can trace its origin to a grandson of Nnebisi, the acknowledged founder of Asaba. Each ebo is headed by the Diokpa, who reports directly to the Asagba of Asaba in matters affecting Asaba as a whole. Recently, the Asagba-in-council has recommended and the Oshimili South Traditional Council has approved that the Diokpas of the five ebos should be accorded Traditional Chieftaincy Titles with the salutation of “Diokpa. ” They have also been appointed members of the Traditional Council of Oshimili South Traditional Council.

OGBE OR IDUMU means the largest administrative unit below the Ebo level which can be traced to a common ancestor The founder may be a patrilineal descendant of nnebisi. The Diokpa of the Ogbe/ldumu i.e. administrative head of the unit, reports directly to the Diokpa of his Ebo. The Association titles, i.e. ‘Alor and Eze titles are taken at the IdumulOgbe level. Similarly, members are inducted into the Oghu and Ihokwuta societies at the Ogbe/Idumu level.

UMUNNA refers to administrative units varying levels of aggregation with an Idumus, e.g. Echekwube, Ezekwensi, etc. Izu means meeting of a recognized administrative unit for the purpose of conducting official business, e.g. Izu-Ahaba (Asagba-in-Council), Izu-Ogbe, Izu-Umunna, etc. The composition of each meeting of the Asagba-in-coucil while Diokpa of the unit concerned presides at meetings of the other units.

According to the intelligence Report on Asaba town by H.Vaux (1934), the first settler in Asaba, popularly called Ahaba by the indigenes, was Ugboma from Awka Division followed by Anyonwu, the son of a Benin exile called Chima. During the investigation into the Role of Chiefs in Midwestern State by D.B. Partridge (I 974) the chiefs and Elders of Asaba gave the following information about the subsequent early history of the town.

NNEBISI is the founder of Asaba. His father was a prince of the Atta of lgala in the Kwara State. His mother DIABA was a native of NTEJE in Onitsho Division of the East Central State of Nigeria. Nnebisi was born on the West Coast of the River Niger now called Cable Point, Asaba. During his infancy, his mother took him to Nteje. When he grew into manhood he joined his age group in the activities of the youth of his day. One such activity was the custom which allowed any young man who caught a cow for sacrifice to have its tail when killed. Nnebisi joined in the exercise of chasing cows on 3 different occasions but each time he caught the cow he was denied the tail of the cow according to Nteje custom. As a result of this incident in his life he confronted his mother and demanded to know his father. His mother then revealed his real identity i.e. that his father was an Igalla Prince and he Nnebisi was born at a place on the West Coast of the Niger now called the Cable Point where she and his father met. She directed him to Asaba. Nnebisi on his return to Asaba married an Igalla girl called UJOM who begot for him the following children: ONNE (Son), EZEUMUNNE (Son) and OJIFE (Daughter).

ONNE through his wife NDO begot EZENEI (son). His second wife OBOWA had 2 sons called: ELIBo-ocHA (nicknamed Ajaji), ELIBO-OKEI (nick- named Onaje)

EZEUMUNNE’s wife called ABAME of Illa in Asaba Division begot for him: (a) UGBOMA, and (b) AGU. The name of his second wife who got for him his third son named IYAGBA and lyagba’s seed are lost.” According to legend, lyagba was actually the oldest son of Eze Umunne, followed by Ugboma and then Agu.