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7.3 Court Records: Area Court Grade 1, Afon; Ilorin Upper Area Court; Igbomina S.W. Area Court Grade 1, Ajasse Po

Information extracted from notes taken on these records by Dr. Susan J. Watts. I am indebted to Dr. Watts for providing me with a copy of her notes. These court records are sometimes confusing, difficult to understand, or apparently incomplete, but they include material on slave land agents, origins of settlements, tribute, land tenure, and slaves on the land (including slaves of Jimba, an elite slave warrior). In three of the court cases, it appears that the descendants of slaves acting for Ilorin landowners were recognised by the courts as owners of the land. Further evidence on the slave ancestry of the Are Ogele (case 2) and the Magaji Lanwa (case 4; descendant of Adenlolu) is to be found in various references in Ann O’Hear, “Elite Slaves in Ilorin in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 39, no. 2 (2006), pp. 247-273.

Cases included here (with occasional annotations in square brackets by Ann O’Hear):

Case 1 Area Court Grade 1, Afon, Suit no. 290/75, case no. 363/75. Baba Agba Agba Lawoyin, Plaintiff, against Alhaji Jimoh and Apara, Defendants

Case 2 Area Court Grade 1, Afon, Suit no. 375/75, case no. 361/75. Busari Akanbi Ogele, Plaintiff (for family of Are Ogele), against Bani Gaa Budu Nuhu, Defendant

Case 3 Ilorin Upper Area Court, I/CVF 4/75, Mohammed Alao Galadima represented by Alhaji Ore Galadima (Plaintiff), against Sunmola Atiku Budo Gbagba family, represented by Atolagbi Fili (Defendant). Judgment 23/9/77

Case 4 Ilorin Upper Area Court I/CVF 3/76, Salami Olokoba, represented by Bello Akanbi (Plaintiff) against Buraimoh Mogaji Lanwa, represented by Alabi Amuro (Defendant). Judgment 20/7/77

Case 5 Igbomina S.W. Area Court Grade I, Ajasse Po, suit no. 455/73, case no. 229/[1975?]

Case 1. Area Court Grade 1, Afon, Suit no. 290/75, case no. 363/75. Baba Agba Agba Lawoyin, Plaintiff, against Alhaji Jimoh and Apara, Defendants

The Plaintiff is claiming his father’s land from the defendants—at the Ilorin airstrip.

The Plaintiff represents the Mama family. He lives at Isale Aluko Oba Mama’s compound, Ilorin. The land in dispute belongs to my great great grandfather late Emir Mama—over 80 years. My father’s caretaker on the land was Iji Dodo. When he died we handed it to Tukuru Alangwa of Fili as caretaker, then Atolagbe. When Atolagbe refused to bring back the tributes he collected, we handed it to Madandola Magaji Gbagba to take care of the land. We gave Madandola to be caretaker in the presence of Emir Sulu Gambari.

The Defendant accuses the Plaintiff of claiming land—“came from Ilorin and jumped onto our village here intending to claim the land when you know that the government is compensating the landlords.”

Plaintiff’s Witness 1, Ayinla Iji Dodo, of Eleminla near Otte hamlet, farmer, says the great grandfather of the Plaintiff gave the land to my father as caretaker—80 years ago—using it since—the compound was demolished 80 years ago and I was not born on the land—my father was born there.

Plaintiff’s Witness [2?], Atolagbe Fili, of Ilorin, butcher, says Iji Doda was a slave of the Emir of Ilorin, Mama. . . .

Defendant’s Witness 2, Jimoh Amasa, farmer of Obanisunwa: says the land belongs to Jimoh. I give annual tribute to him, and locust beans, and have been using the land for 80 years.

Findings: The Plaintiff’s Witness 1, Baba Ayinla Ijidado, could not show the place where his father was apparently caretaker. The Plaintiff’s Witnesses’ evidence was found contradictory. Alh. Jimoh is the owner.

Case 2. Area Court Grade 1, Afon, Suit no. 375/75, case no. 361/75. Busari Akanbi Ogele, Plaintiff (for family of Are Ogele), against Bani Gaa Budu Nuhu, Defendant

The Defendant is claiming land at Budu Nuhu, opposite the Ilorin airstrip.

Plaintiff: states he is Busari Akanbi, 52, Farmer. My land at Budo Nuhu—it belongs to my great grandfather Yunusa [also known as the first Are Ogele], a slave of Oba Shitta—Yunusa a follower of Shitta, followed him from his home town north of Ilorin. Emir Shitta trusted him, a cook for him. Oba Shitta brought Yamusa [Yunusa] and Mohammadu to Oke Erin. . . . and instructed them to make a farm for him. Later Mohammadu and Yamusa quarrelled, the information reached the Emir, he separated them and took Yamusa to Budu Nuhu, the disputed land. In those days there was no village from Budo Nuhu to the boundary of Western Nigeria. After 13 years Nuhu settled with my great grandfather, Yamusa, who went and built another village called Ogenle and instructed Nuhu to take care of Budu Nuhu. Every villager who used to come to him he gave a village—he built 136 villages and gave each a caretaker—he used to collect tribute from the villages—we collect tribute, and taxes for the government.

. . . .

50 years after Are Ogele’s settlement at Ogele, the father of the Defendant, Goga (a cattle rearer), came from Gamma to settle at Budu Nuhu—this was after the death of Nuhu, when Bakare was village head.

. . . .

Are Suleman (3rd Are Ogele) . . . instructed Bakare to give a portion of land to Goga. Goga sent his follower Burema Dudu . . . to give a calabash of milk to Are Suleman as a gift. Since then we have been collecting tribute from Goga, Burema Dudu and their children as landlord.

Last year the Defendant refused to pay tribute—Burema Dudu and other Fulani of Budo Nuhu made ropes as tribute for Are Ogele when he builds a new house—Are Ogele also their tax collector.

Plaintiff’s Witness 1.  Aminu Akande Akan, Bale [of] Budo Nuhue, 50 plus, grandchild of Nuhu, said my great grandfather was a caretaker. He gave annual tribute to Are Ogele, the landlord, even I do so as Bale. The father of the defendant used to. The father of the defendant came to settle at Budo Nuhu after the death of the 3rd Bale [of] Budo Nuhu.

People wishing to settle were taken to Are Ogele.

We usually harvest crops and locust beans at Budo Nuhu. The Fulanis do so, and give tribute on the land to Are Ogele, as the owner of the land.

Plaintiff’s Witness 2. Alao Are, of Budo Nuhu, about 60, farmer, testified that the land belongs to Are Ogele. I give him tribute for my farms.

Findings: the Plaintiff is the owner of the land. . . .

Case 3. Ilorin Upper Area Court, I/CVF 4/75, Mohammed Alao Galadima represented by Alhaji Ore Galadima (Plaintiff), against Sunmola Atiku Budo Gbagba family, represented by Atolagbi Fili (Defendant). Judgment 23/9/77

The Plaintiff sued the Defendant for trespass on land at Galadima village, opposite Ilorin airstrip. . . .

Plaintiff’s Witness 1, Alh. Ore Galadima, testified that the first Emir, Abdul-Salami, gave the land to his great great grandfather, the first Galadima of Ilorin, called Saliu. His family in possession of the land without challenge.

Tenants and caretakers paid his family tribute, farm and economic crops, and annual homage of roofing grass.

His caretaker, Ajao Mogaji and Mustapha reported Atiko Budo Gbagba for destroying boundary pillars of the land in dispute.

Atiku and his 2 sons were convicted to a fine of 20 naira or one month imprisonment for stealing locust beans from the disputed land.

Plaintiff’s Witness 2, Amadu Alao, present head of Galadima family of Ilorin, 8th Galadima of Ilorin, who succeeded to his family land. He collects tribute.

Plaintiff’s Witness 4, Mustapha Ajape, and parents born and bred in Galadima hamlet—guests of the plaintiff’s family—he and others pay a tribute of farm crops and locust beans. Annual tributes and homage paid through him to the Plaintiff.

Defendant’s case. 

Defendant’s Witness 1, Atolagbe Ayinde Fili, testified that the great grandfather of Atiku is the owner of the disputed land—he has been caretaker over 40 years. He showed the children of Atiku the boundary lines 6 or 7 years ago in the presence of Ajia. . . .

The Defendant’s family gave Tafa and Ajao their land. . . .

Ajao, Mustafa and Amao are descendants of Maimai, a slave to their great grandfather. His family gave one of their daughters to Amadu, who is related to Mustapha. Ajao, Mustapha and Amao became hostile to him and claimed that the Plaintiff is the owner of the disputed land. He admitted that his son Akanbi was convicted of stealing locust beans on the disputed land, in Area Court Grade 1, Ilorin, but acquitted in UAC/CRA 12/73.

Defendant’s Witness 2, Atiku Akanbi, testified that Defendant’s Witness 1 received tribute from the land on his behalf. . . .

Defendant’s Witness 3, Jimoh Ajia, testified that his great grand father was the owner of the disputed land, and of Sumaila hamlet—later, including the Plaintiff’s forefathers, they moved to Galadima hamlet, closer to the main road.

The Emir of Ilorin gave the family the land in dispute because of Ajia’s war effort. Mijin Dadi apportioned part of the land to the Plaintiff for habitation.

Defendant’s Witness 4, Madandola Mijindadi, said that the Plaintiff had a common boundary with his family’s land in Sumaila hamlet, he once encroached on the land, so his family informed theirs and the Plaintiff admitted his mistake. The Plaintiff settled his village on his own, without the Defendant’s permission.

Defendant’s Witness 5, Amadu Rufai, said Defendant’s Witness 2’s father was the owner of the land, Defendant’s Witness 1 was the caretaker.

Defendant’s Witness 9, Alfa Bani, testified that . . . he pays the Plaintiff tributes for farming in the Plaintiff’s old site of Galadima hamlet, not in dispute. He pays the Defendant tributes from the disputed land.

The Emir of Ilorin apportioned land to him, and to both Plaintiff and Defendant.

Findings . . . declared for the Plaintiff. . . .

Case 4. Ilorin Upper Area Court I/CVF 3/76, Salami Olokoba, represented by Bello Akanbi (Plaintiff) against Buraimoh Mogaji Lanwa, represented by Alabi Amuro (Defendant). Judgment 20/7/77

Plaintiff sued Defendant re ownership of land from Gabe to Egberin River. . . .

Plaintiff’s Witness 1, Bello Akanbi: the disputed land was given to his great grandfather, Ojo, a hunter, by Emir Abdul Salami. . . .

Omo-Lanwa, whose name was later abbreviated to Lanwa, was caretaker for his great grandfather—Lanwa was later permitted to settle his hamlet Lanwa-Oko and his family were in possession of their land and farming it until the defendant’s grandfather Adenlolu was brought by the 5th Emir to his grandfather as the Emir’s agent or intermediary. Adenlolu was a slave who collected tributes from his great grandfather to the Emir of Ilorin.

Ayodele, Adenlolu’s son, was farming on his family land and later appointed tax collector of Lanwa village areas. Ayodele usually harvested locust beans from their family land and paid them tributes therefrom. Momon Huhu—Buraimoh’s (the Defendant’s) father succeeded as village head of Lanwa; the Defendant succeeded him as 5th Mogaji of Lanwa and sold part of his family land to the inhabitants of the village—his family queried the Defendant, and [the Defendant] failed to explain his illegal sale of family land—so he (the Plaintiff) sued the Defendant to establish his rightful claim. . . . The Plaintiff claimed the land was given as an outright gift to his family by the Emir. . . .

The Defendant’s case: 

Alabi Kawu, Defendant’s Witness 1, of Lanwa—said that from Obo stream to R. Niger is Adenlolu’s land—Adenlolu, a warrior, first settled at Gbungudu, not disputed land, and he entrusted Gbugundu [sic] under Oderinde’s care and proceeded on his war effort to found Bode Saadu, Biri Biri and Onipako village areas. Adenlolu killed Nupe warriors on the bank of the R. Niger. . . .

. . . later Adenlolu made Lanwa his village area Head Quarters. Adenlolu apportioned farm and building lands to inhabitants of villages—he also allowed them to grow locust beans on their land and harvest them. The inhabitants of Adenlolu’s land cannot claim ownership—After Adenlolu’s death his children succeeded as village heads, Momoh Nuhu, Jimoh and Ogborengbe.

He denied that Adenlolu was merely a follower of Oloko the warrior or war leader—Adenlolu fought wars on behalf of Abdul Salami and was never enslaved during the reign of Oba Moma.

Defendant’s Witness 2, Bayero Akanbi, revealed that Adenlolu was the father of his mother—that Ojo was a servant to Adenlolu and was given part of Adenlolu’s land to settle, and that the Plaintiff was a guest of Adenlolu.

The Defendant’s Witness 3, Ibrahim Kajibo, testified that Adenlolu was the first settler of Lanwa on the authority of the 5th Emir. . . .

Adenlolu gave land to the following people. . . .

The Defendant claimed his land extended North to Jebba, . . . showed us Lanwa market which Adenlolu built. . . .

The Plaintiff claimed Lanwa was the first settler of Lanwa market and that his (the Plaintiff’s) forefathers came from Ile Latu in Oke-Oyi to Lanwa.

Judgment. The Plaintiff failed to call the Emir or any people he claimed had a common boundary with his land. His evidence was contradictory: Adenlolu was a mere agent for the Emir of Ilorin; or harvester of locust beans—he [the Plaintiff] claimed Adenlolu was a slave, but never resisted the Emir of Ilorin for appointing the son of a slave as tax collector over land first granted to his great grandfather by the previous Emir. . . .

The evidence of the Defendant’s Witnesses is consistent.

The Plaintiff’s case was dismissed.

Case 5. Igbomina S.W. Area Court Grade I, Ajasse Po, suit no. 455/73, case no. 229/[1975?]

Plaintiff claiming land. Claimed he had given the Defendants land for farming—they refused to quit.

First Defendant to Plaintiff: one Alege brought your father from Ilorin to the then Oba of Idofian on the order of the then Emir, to allow your father to stay with him for some time to farm.

Plaintiff says he doesn’t belong to any compound in Idofian. He doesn’t know where his father came from.

First Defendant: During the time of Bale Keji (Idofian), Agba and three slaves were brought in chains to stay with Bale Keji, by Prince Alege Ojiwuni, eldest son of Emir. Bale Keji begged my father to take care of Alege’s slaves and keep them on his land—for Alege wants Agba and the other slaves near the slaves of Jimba in Jimba village. Alege later took away three, leaving only Agba. My father kept the slaves in his hut called Budo-Ode. Agba and other slaves stole my father’s crops . . . . Alege appealed to my father to allow the slaves to have some land for farming in order to have food.

When Agba stayed behind, he paid annual tribute to Bale Keji.

My father shared a boundary with slaves of Jimba at Elera Stream on the way to Ilorin.

Agba didn’t leave and Alege Oniwuni didn’t come back to take him. Plaintiff is great grandson of Agba.

The people of Jimba are slaves brought by Jimba of Ilorin to the present village; the land on which they are belongs to the Bale of Idofian.

First Defendant’s Witness , Moliki Akanni of Ile Bale, Agbalaya, Idofian, 95 years old. The slaves were kept in the hut. Alege Ojiwuni promised soon to take them back to Ilorin. They were kept in chains but got out at night and stole maize and yams. They were later allowed to farm. All returned to Ilorin but Agba, who paid tribute annually to my father, Bale Keji.

Second Defendant’s Witness, Yesufu Adisa, 108 years old. The slaves stay—Alege Ojiwuni didn’t want all his slaves to stay at Jimba, but be in different places near Jimba. Alege Ojiwuni promised to move the slaves away at the end of the war.

When the war ended at Offa, Oba Momo became Emir while at Offa, and when going to assume the office of Emir in Ilorin, he slept at Idofian. While there, Oba Momo and Alege sent for Agba and the other slaves to be prepared to go back but Agba wanted to stay, and return when there would be no war.

Third Defendant’s Witness, Olagunju Alabi, 56 years old. After Bale Keji reigned for many years, war between Offa and Ilorin started. Alege and slave Agba used to go to the war place at Offa. When Agba was old, Alege asked Bale Keji to keep him temporarily in Oluode Abinwinrin’s hut “budo” and Oluode Abinwinrin agreed. My father was among the chiefs who received Agba and the other slaves on the application of Alege.

Fourth Defendant’s Witness, the Oba of Idofian. Oluode Abinwinrin was a great hunter, used to sleep in the hut with the slaves. Whenever Oluode Abinwinrin came home to Idofian to pay homage to Baba Keji the slaves often stole his farm crops etc. Baba Keji prevailed on Oluode Abinwinrin to give the slaves land for 100 heaps, for crops for food. Agba stayed, and paid through Baba Keji to Oluode Abinwinrin [should be through Oluode Abinwinwin to Baba Keji?].

[no Findings/Judgment available]

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