Lagos State of Nigeria

TEL: 803 687 0037

The Origin of Eko (Lagos)

There is a lot of traditional history at both Benin and Lagos ends relating to the origin of what is now Lagos, its ruler and it's connection with Benin. But perhaps to avoid inadequacies and controversy which the academics claim surrounds traditional history, we may like to hear what some modern historians have to say on this subject. Robert S. Smith, in his book of some principal Yoruba owns, especially in and around Oyo, and the westward expansion in the 17th century of Benin Kingdom with it's number of subject towns on or near to the coast, which included Lagos, went on to say this about Lagos in particular:

"It's name reflect it's past to the Yoruba it's Eko, deriving probably from the farm (Oko) of the earliest settlers, though alternatively-or additionally-it may be the Benin word (Eko) for a war-camp...We say Eko is a Benin word that means camp"

After describing the activities of the armies of Benin under Oba Orhogbua, culminating in his arrival at what is now Lagos, Smith went on to add:

"Sometime later the Oba appointed a ruler for Lagos to represent the interest of Benin and to forward tribute there. The man chosen is named in both Lagos and Benin Tradition as Ashipa"

Smith says that by Lagos account this Ashipa was an Isheri Chief, while the Benin account says Ashipa was a grandson of the Oba of Benin. We shall come to this later. Smith was, however, satisfied that Benin had established it's ascendency in Lagos and had founded a dynasty there at some period before 1700.The dyansty's dependence on Benin, Smith found, was emphasized by the appointment of another Chief, the Eletu Odibo, who alone had the right to crown the Oba and who in early times probably maintained close connection with Benin,.(Eletu Odibo is a corruption of the Edo equivalent Olotu Odibo)

"G.T. Stride and C. Ifeka, in their book titled Peoples and empires pf West Africa have this to say on the same subject:

Oba Orhogbua was clearly a strong warrior for he enforced tribute payments from all parts of the empire and in the middle 1550s conquered all the coastal lands up to Lagos where he left a permanent garrison. Tradition in Lagos says that their first Oba, the Eleko of Eko, was a son of the Oba Orhogbua of Benin"

It will be seen, therefore, that even if we were to disregard traditional history there is enough material from modern historians to confirm the fact that what is now Lagos was founded by an Oba of Benin who also gave it it's first ruler. But we really cannot disregard traditional history. In Benin tradition, and we believe the same of Yoruba and other ethnic groups in this country, one way to establish that an event in traditional history did occur is by the type of anecdote or adage that evolves from that event . Thus, for instance, We Edo people say that "Orhogbua gb'Olague,ona y'ukpe abekpen z'umwen rie Edo, meaning that Oba Orhogbua defeated Olague and used sword to bring his salt to Benin, This is in allusion of to the exploits of Oba Orhogbua while in his camp (Eko) from where he over-ran the place known as Mahin with it's ruler whom the Benin People nicknamed Olague. There Orhogbua discovered the common rock salt and brought it to Benin who thereby tasted it for the first time.

Now the name "Ashipa has featured quite prominently (and rightly too) in the history of Lagos. After the Oba Orhogbua returned to Benin from Eko, he appointed a commander or an administrator, who was called Aisikpa to look after the skeleton troop left in the camp(Eko) until he returned again from Benin. He could no longer return having seen the situation at home. The name "Aisikpahienvoborre" which means "people do not desert their home-land. "This is how Aisikpa, whom the Yoruba now call Ashipa, came into the Lagos (Eko) history. Eko is still there as the traditional Benin name for Lagos; Ashipa has been retained as a senior traditional chieftaincy title while his descendants now retain the modern name of Oba of Lagos. The interaction of Edo people with others in distant lands must have inevitably resulted in cultural exchanges.

Excerpts From a Lecture on the Evolution of Traditional
rulership in Nigeria given under the auspices of the University of
Ibadan, Institute of African studies on 11th September,1984 by Omo
N'Oba N'Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Oba Erediauwa.




From: Viscount <>
Date: Wed, Aug 3, 2011 at 7:46 PM

Professor Nwakanma,
Sir, you wrote:

The establishment of a modern nation called "Nigeria" made Lagos possible as an urban and cosmopolitan center of administration, trade, and education. The centering of the institution of national governance drew a great movement of people unified under one economic and political dominion to seek their livelihood in this place established as a "no man's land." Among the great wave of emigration include the Igbo of course. Indeed by 1925, the Igbo population, according to the census figures conducted in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, had become the most widespread population in Lagos (see coleman).
I understand you are paraphrasing him, but that paraphrase, dear sir, does NOT represent what James S. Coleman wrote about the ethnic make-up of Lagos in the early 1900s. In that particular writing, James Coleman partitioned the population of Lagos into two 1) Yoruba owners of the land and 2) migrants.

He was referring to the migrant population when he alluded to the fact that the Igbo were in the majority. See, we know you are a linguist and you can be as clear as glass when you need to be; so obfuscating and writing cunningly only confirms a suspicion that you are prosecuting a war against the Yoruba.

Elsewhere you wrote about the Lagos charter of 1861 and how no Yoruba was signatory to the cession of Lagos to the British. Can you tell us who, other than Dosunmu, that was signatory to the cession? Did he not act alone (without the approval of the white cap chiefs) in contravention of established native land laws in Lagos?

Professor, one understands your pining for a Nigeria where the original Nations are for historical references only. Unfortunately, the reality of Nigeria's current structure negates that very Utopian ideal, and worse, your own relentless assault on the Yoruba forces most people to automatically view your motives with suspicion.

@ Surveyor Asagwara,

Can you not for once sit back and enjoy a good debate without dumbing it down for goodness sake ?!? The one time we need you to be in your normal stupor is the one time that you are wide awake !!!!!!!!!! Chei ! Lord have mercy !


--- In, Rex Marinus <rexmarinus@...> wrote:

 "Which Lagos used to be capital of Nigeria? Lagos State? City of Lagos? Lagos colony? In case you don't know, it was the colony that was designated "capital of Nigeria"----against protests by Yoruba people. This was done as a matter of British colonial policy of balkanizing Yoruba people, just as the Yoruba in today's Kwara and Kogi states were excised from the rest of Yoruba country. The creation of states in 1967 rectified that anomaly in the case of Lagos state when the city was merged with some areas from the Western Region to create Lagos state. Territorial rights is different from personal property rights--personal property rights cannot be substituted for territorial rights.Just so you know, so you won't turn this into another "1951"." -Leye Ige



 1. A small matter of history, Lagos is not Yoruba territory. The charter of incorporation of the city of Lagos in 1856 after the anexation had not a single Yoruba signature. So, even as a modern city, Lagos was not founded by the Yoruba. As a political territory, Lagos was never under the control of the Yoruba until 1967.
I guess it was under the leadership of  EZE LIE NWAKANMA!
 The Yoruba historically were governed under the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria with its headquatrers, first in Calabar, and later in Enugu until 1945/6 when Arthur Richards created the three regions and established Ibadan as the headquarter of the Western Region. As the colony of Lagos, and later the headquater of the amalgamated colony of Nigeria, Lagos was governed as a separate territory.
 In 1914 it was designated as the capital territory of Nigeria, and it is not true that the Yoruba protested.
 (A) They were not in any position to protest
 (b) They had no grounds to protest because indeed, until more recent history, the Yoruba did not regard Lagos as Yoruba land.
The in-land territories of the Yoruba whose merchants conducted any trade at the coasts paid tolls and custom duties to come to lagos.
If the Yoruba traders in the 19th and early 20th century paid tolls to be allowed to trade at the coast, the current claims of ownership begs much question.

 2. As a separate territory and a federal territory, Lagos was always and remains an immigrant space.
People came from Left right and center to establish Lagos.
Indeed, if anybody could make any historical claim to Lagos, it would be the Edo and the migrant Ijo,
and a handful of Ijesha fishermen who first came to Lagos running from the Oyo civil wars.
Really...Ijesha FISHERMEN...I would think they swam along IMO RIVER into LAGOS then?
 As the records show, it was about the same time as the in-land push from Yoruba refugees from the Yoruba civil wars of the middle 18th c. began to settle parts of what is no Lagos, that Aro and other Igbo traders at the coast, trading with the Portuguese, the Dahomeans and the Edo, also began to establish their presence in what we know today as Oyingbo in the heart of Lagos.
These are clear historical truths.

It was this aggloemeration of Yoruba slaves brought from in-land and captured from the wars and the Aro middlemen brokers in the commerce with the Portuguese that made Lagos and Kutonu famous the "slave coasts" of western narrative and one of the thriving grounds of commerce from the 18th.

 3.The establishment of a modern nation called "Nigeria" made Lagos possible as an urban and cosmopolitan center of administration, trade, and education. The centering of the institution of national governance drew a great movement of people unified under one economic and political dominion to seek their livelihood in this place established as a "no man's land." Among the great wave of emigration include the Igbo of course. Indeed by 1925, the Igbo population, according to the census figures conducted in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, had become the most widespread population in Lagos (see coleman). They came to Lagos as administrators, artisans, professionals, students, entepreneurs, as well as thieves, assassins, smugglers, and so on. Indeed, the society of Lagos would have very little economic and social spice without this great wave of Igbo-Lagosians. In its modern era, to be counted among its economic, professional and political leaders are the Igbo. from 1937-1967, Igbo people were candidates and won elections into the Lagos city Council, the preceding order to what became known as Lagos state. The interegnum of war and political destabilization checked more apparent Igbo political influence in Lagos. Indeed, up till 1967, the Igbo had economic and political leadership of Lagos. The strategic transfer of political and economic wealth in succession of the Igbo to the Yoruba in Lagos may be regarded as the natural outcome of war and instability. Yet, while Azikiwe, mbonu Ojike, Monu, etc. won elections and were Mayors of Lagos by popular election, people like Ukiwe and Ndubisi Kanu have governed Lagos as military governors. It is therefore specious and amusing to describe the Igbo as anything other than stake-holders in Lagos. There is nothing anyone of us, even if we wished, can do about it. Not too long from now, for as long as democracy is the order, an Igbo-Lagosian will seek to govern lagos, and will be elected. He will contest because it is within his/her right to contest elections - that is to seek to elect or be elected in Lagos. He or she will win because S/he would have mobilized and garnered the highest electoral votes. Then, those would choose to commit seppuku as a result may be welcome to do so. In the same token, I expect that a Yoruba, Ijo, Hausa, Igbirra, Nupe, Ogoni, Bachama, etc who has lived in Onitsha, Enugu, Aba, Owerri, Okigwe, Umuahia, afikpo, Abakiliki, Port-Harcourt, Asaba, Awka, etc. and has established himself/herself, and feels the urge to contest election may do so, and if they garner the requiste total will be elected and admitted into the chambers of the Assembly or the governors lodge of these places. Those who also wish to hang themselves as a result may also oblige themselves.

4. Finally on "territorial rights" - the last time I looked, Lagos was a territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Igbo or Edo or Idoma or Hausa etc are not required to enter Lagos with a passport; they are not subject to any other authority except the authorities and offices established by the Legislatures of the Federation of Nigeria; Lagos is an Igbo teritory as much as it is yourba territory. It would take a massive act of violence to change this fact. If the Igbo, Edo, Isoko, Idoma, hausa, Fulani, Nupe, etc are "immigrants" or "foreigners" to Lagos, so are the Yoruba who immigrated in serious numbers to Lagos only in the 20th century. Indeed, the question of property right is linked to territotorial rights. It is also based on the commerce between individual interests and estates. My uncle is a "Land Lord" - please note that term - in Lagos. My uncle's property in Lagos belongs to him and to his children until they sell it to another party. Under the constitution of Nigeria, my uncle's transaction is not with the "Yoruba" It is with the City of Lagos under whose admnistrative and municipal codes that house is regulated. That spot on which his house stands belongs to him in perpetuity until he makes an INDIVIDUAL transaction, or until, under the laws of eminent domain, the Lagos state government in which he is an elector, takes the home from him after a legally determined compensation. To put it simply, the owner of a property in lagos is protected under a conveyance and under an individual pact of protection with the Federal Government of Nigeria. Until that relationship expires, especially until the federation of Nigeria atrophies, no other authority can legislate the basis of that claim wether as territory or as personal property. I It is called CITIZENSHIP. It is therefore hokum to think of Lagos as a separate territory outside the laws of Nigeria and any Nigerian as a "foreigner" to Lagos. Even if there is a successor nation after Nigeria, Igbo interest in Lagos will FUNDAMENTALLY determine a lot of the future of Lagos, as would other competing or allied interests. The Igbo are in Lagos to stay, build, prosper, lead, elect and be elected. Those who feel any desperation as a result have only two alternatives (a) Begin a process of ethnic cleansing and (b) begin a war. But those who are pragmatic enough to understand the inexorable nature of our historical encounter must begin to work together for a future in which all interests are protected. I think this is is clear enough.

Obi Nwakanma

"If I don't learn to shut my mouth I'll soon go to hell, I, Okigbo, town-crier, together with my iron bell." --Christopher Okigbo

Views: 4751


You need to be a member of OTEDO.COM to add comments!


Comment by Otedo News Update on August 10, 2013 at 4:16pm
Comment by Otedo News Update on August 10, 2013 at 4:15pm


In 1603, Andreas Joshua Ulsheimer, a German surgeon, aboard a Dutch merchant ship, visited Lagos. He later described it as a large frontier town surrounded by strong fence and inhabitant by "none but soldiers and four military commanders, who behave in a very stately manner." The Lagos visited by Ulsheimer and his trading colleagues nearly four centuries ago was in many ways highly developed. Each day its four commander came together as a court and each day two envoys were dispatched to take decisions back to their ruler in Benin. To do so, Ulsheimer wrote, was a common practice in all towns under the suzerainty of Benin. Food in the Lagos area was plentiful: handsome fish, good wildfowl", meat fruits, yams and a host of other foodstuffs. The town was by water and by land, and many traders who brought their wares by water and by land, and who conducted their transactions in cowries or trade goods, amongst which brass was highly prized. Ulsheimer was struck by the beautiful, colouful cloth, the ivory, and the elephant tails were traded in Lagos, and by the large amount of pepper that was available. Indeed, his party was rewarded with five lasts of pepper for successful helping the Benin-led army-which he possibly overstated as being ten thousand- to lay siege to dissident neighboring towns.

Comment by Otedo News Update on August 10, 2013 at 3:51pm


**Governors Tinubu and Fashola are all citizen of neighbouring states of Osun and Ekiti and technically should not claim Lagos.

**deportee Uchenna's great grand parents came to Lagos in the 1920s as produce sellers. His grandfather, his immediate father and himself were all born in Lagos.

**yet Uchenna was arrested for selling on the street, detained in a secret detention camp and cargoed to a State he has never visited before.

Lagos was the former Capital of Nigeria and still the commercial capital of the Country. Being the former Federal capital, many Nigerians were posted, transferred or secured a jobs to work in the Federal civil services. Others set up business that was serving the increasing Lagos Population.
According to the last census, about 85% of residents of Lagos are either visitors or people who choose to settle in the city through different generation.

The question Remains, Who actually owns Lagos. since Gov Fashola deported 72 Igbos from Lagos to Onitsha. The deportees had all been earlier detained in “warehouses” in Lagos and some in the neighbouring Ogun region for months before their deportation to Igboland. Many of the deportees are children and older people and some have disabilities.

From records the last two governors of Lagos state are not originally Lagosians, but the 'real owners' accommodated them to the extent of allowing them to vie for elective positions in the state.


1] Bola Tinubu.
*Status: Politician.
*State of Origin: Osun state.
*Father's State of Birth : Osun state
*Position: Former Lagos state Governor.

2] Babatunde Fashola
*Status: Politician.
*State of Origin: Ekiti state.
*Father's State of Birth : Ekiti state
*Position: Current Lagos state Governor.

3] Uchenna Amadi
*Status: Trader (Roadside).
*State of Origin: Lagos state.
*Father's State of Birth : Lagos state
*Position: Deported To Onitsha.

This is where the confusion comes in, in determining the actual owner of Lagos. Governors Tinubu and Fashola are all citizen of neighbouring states of Osun and Ekiti and technically should not claim Lagos. The deportee Uchenna's great grand parents came to Lagos in the 1920s as produce sellers. His grandfather, his immediate father and himself were all born in Lagos, yet he was arrested for selling on the street, detained in a secret detention camp and cargoed to a State he has never visited before.

The question remains, who owns Lagos and who should have the right to deport a Nigerian that was born and lived his whole life in a particular state, irrespective of his offence, handicap or health situation?
WHO owns Lagos?

Great Benin Bronze



These anti-Edo political organizations you folks went to join are the most anti-African - and Africans - in the world.

They're worse than anything; we obviously can't stop you though, even Ewuare II's manifest destiny lies in our own regional party.

We have egba Omo Oduduwa and so on, NPC, AG, the forerunner of them all NCNC and then now these cancers of today.

Stay "with them", but register for your most important election first: your local election, register Edo Political Front, and if you don't, vote the front.

No self respecting Edo will - in the future - find themselves the flag bearers and cheerleaders of foreign parties with indirect rule political and economic mandates, it just doesn't work.

No sane Edo person lives to "have the ear" of someone who doesn't have Edo at their heart.

The Supreme Court is the place to remove the frustration of these lethargic and "periodic" additions to the voting rolls; here - where I live - you can fill in the forms regarding changing your voter registration at the post office and other easy access places.

At the rate things are going we're going to find ourselves truly in decline as our populations suffer from simple things like protein deficiencies in children

" - Reggie Akpata

© 2018   Created by Otedo News Update.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

Local And International News Outlets
OTEDO.COM New Nigerian Newspaper Los Angeles Times Leadership Newspaper Thisday Vanguard Newspaper 234Next Daily Champion MTN Football Chicago Inquirer PM News National Daily NigeriaHealthWatch News Star Newspaper Desert Herald Sahara Reporters Associated Press Nigeria Liberty Forum,UK AFP Online BBC Nigerian Village Square Telegraph Newspaper Nigerian News Service Newswatch The Guardian Punch Daily Independent Nigerian Tribune The Nation The Sun Coastalnews NewsDiary Online Daily Trust Compass Newspaper CNN SKY Sports Yahoo! News KickOff Nigeria CNET News Reuters United Press International