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Osokoro War and other issues at Irele

Osokoro war was fought. Two reasons were responsible for the war. The first was the fact that one of the children of Orunbemekun had an illicit affair with the wife of the Oba of Benin. This development triggered off diplomatic squabble between the folk at Irele and the people of Benin. The second or remote reason was the non-preparedness of the folk at Irele to pay tithes on the land to the Benin monarch. During the war, Oyenusi died and two of his children namely Akinyomi and Awohanma were killed. The role played by Oyenusi during Osokoro war cannot be easily forgotten. He fought and lost two of his children in the process. He was at the forefront of the struggle to emancipate the folk from the economic and political exploitation of the Oba of Benin. Local imperialism held sway over the folk at Irele. The war came and Oyenusi was prepared to slug it out for the last time with the invaders who had ravaged the land over the years. His wife had just put to bed and the thought of a baby without a home confronted him. He would rather die than live to see his children become slaves to the overbearing influence of the Oba of Benin. Not only that, every annual yield of the enclave was lost to the extortionist bid of the Oba of Benin. During the war, the king was already old and could not take active part in the warfare. It was unfortunate that the heir apparent, Oyenusi died in the course of the war. He would have been crowned but for that development. After the war, the people of Orunbemekun left Ohunmo and lived at Ajagba. Thereafter, Oyinbo Lemagbuwa decided to return home. Before then, Jagboju had relocated to the present location of Irele. After the necessary rituals backed up with AribejiOloja Jagboju allowed Orunbemekun folk to join him at Ita Lipepe. It was at that point that Konye title was brought from Ajagba and the folk pleaded that Jagboju should make them part of the chieftaincy.


Oyenusi was a great strategist. He had his own group of warriors comprising many of his children, slaves and in-laws who fought side by side with him. He kept a son of his named Akinyomi in the outpost where he could inform everyone about the presence of the invaders. He was there, and kept sending messengers to inform the warriors under the command of his father about the approach of the Benin invaders. Many warriors were killed through that singular effort. However, luck ran out of the informants as some soldiers were keeping vigil at the entrance of the village and captured Akinyomi during the encounter. The resolve by his father, Oyenusi to rescue Jagboju led to catastrophic consequences. His son, Akinyomi was killed in the process. His mission was however considered accomplished, as he was able to hide the king from the infiltration of the invaders.

Oyenusi was not alone. His children were solidly behind him. Akinyomi was with him. He too was a stalwart that could dare the most daunting member of the invading army. Great was the exploit of Oyenusi in the quest to preserve the sanctity of the town and wrestle it from the clutches of the army of occupation. When the invaders were approaching, Oyenusi instructed three of his children namely OpetusinAkinyomi and Awohanma to escape into the bush with the monarch named Jagboju far away from the scene of the war. He assisted them by providing security for the team so that the invaders would not scuttle the endeavour. With a leeway provided for the monarch, Opetusin kept vigil at the scene while Oyenusi and the remaining two children provided security for the duo.

Soon, the invaders came near the scene of the enclave and Oyenusi was dressed in the king’s regalia. The encounter gathered momentum and the Benin warriors had a false feeling that they were fighting a battle with the Olofun unknown to them that the soldier in the king’s regalia was Oyenusi who was the heir apparent to the throne. Oyenusi and his children were overpowered and beheaded thereafter. With that development, Osokoro warriors were satisfied that they had killed the king. Alas, it was an illusion. They got to Benin and the Benin monarch was pissed off that the warriors could be hoodwinked to the extent that they took a prince for the king. It was reported that the leader of the Benin warriors was immediately beheaded. A document provided by a Benin sage amply supported this claim.  As a result, the crown had to shift to his first son, Opetusin so that he could represent Oyenusi in view of his fatal roles during the war.


Akinyomi was a hero of Osokoro war. He lost his life in the course of defending the territorial integrity of Irele. He died even before his elder brother Agbogun. Yet his two sons through Oribule Lowo have since kept the light shining. Monuteyin and Onayeseunmi are enough to perpetuate his memory. Madubuwa was a goddess in human form. Lisa Latima too cannot be glossed over as her diplomatic prowess brought about memorable tales that tend towards aesthetic appeal in the warfront. The offspring remain unsurpassed in their exploits the world over. They dictate the pace and receive the accolades of both the high and mighty in the town. Akinyomi was blessed; he was not cursed.

Praise song:

Akinyomi, obiyara o oriyo o

Akinyomi o, obiyara ori le o.

Memaghule nugbo wo gbanre Akinyomi

Ori le o

Mo ba paja o, mo ba pa agbo Akinyomi,

Ori le o.

Akinyomi, o e e

Ori le o.

Akinyomi was the ancestor of LumekoIdogun and Lisa LatimaLanusi, the last son of Okunsanbi was the progenitor of Woye, Orunto, Ayadi, Arogbo, Oge, Lemikan, Wanaye, Sokoti, Yegun etc. Akinyomi Oluwaye (Ebitiesereparapara) was the son of Oyenusi. His mother’s name was Okunsanbi, the first wife of Oyenusi. He was the fourth son of OkunsanbiAkinyomi gave birth to MonitehinOnayeseunmiMadubuwa and Lisa-LatimaMonitehin’s offspring are Lumeko while those of Onayeseunmi are the Idogun of Irele. Osokoro war began on a market day. The wife of Akinyomi was away to the market. She left her children namely Monitehin and Onayeseunmi under the care of the father Akinyomi. The folk defended Jagboju from being attacked. He was taken away from the scene of the war. Akinyomi returned home in order to save the lives of his two children. He threw them into the pit and kept them there for safety. It was while he returned to defend the king that he was killed. Till today, it has become a taboo in the two families for any woman to leave her children under the care of the husband while going to the market. They succeeded at last in saving the life of JagbojuMonitehin was to be made the king of Irele at the demise of Jagboju but he declined and declared that it would have been out of place for him to be crowned while Opetusin his elder brother was still alive.


Awohanma was the son of Oyenusi through Ojayitemi who hailed from OmiAwohanma died during Osokoro war. His unsurpassed military prowess made him a ready target of the invaders. He was killed and buried with fanfare by his siblings. Triple burial was held at Egunre prelude to the movement to Ode Irele. It was mourning galore as Oyenusi and his two sons were buried the same day. Their precious blood irrigated our field and their nourishing flesh fertilized our land. How I wish another greater skill could lend another resounding voice to my quest to celebrate these heroes and heroines!

Culled from Ode Irele: The Arts and Performance and Ode Irele: Tales of Heroes and Heroines by Dr. Segun Omosule.

1 Comment

  1. I guess Dr. Omosule(wdr) is more of a literary personality than an historian – as evidently shown by the lacuna in this write up. While some truths cannot be denied in the write up, several lies are embedded ostensibly to suit the purpose for which the write up was made. Just like his several articles on same subject, he has succeeded in factionalising and depicting the true history of Irele kingdom. The Just Shall Live By Faith!

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