Ijemo Massacre

Alake and officialsfour years after the massacre
Alake and other officials of the independent Egba government hosts Nigeria Governor General, Lord Lugard in 1910. 4 years later, after the Ijemo incidence, Egba will be subsumed under Nigeria. Photo: Asuoka

Ijemo Massacre was an incidence in Abeokuta in 1914, that led to the abrogation of the Treaty of 1893 in which the independence of the Egba kingdom had been asserted. This widely condemned killing of some 40 unarmed men, women and children at Ijemo was the subject of serious discussions in the West African papers, as well as some English papers. The Ijemo crisis was the pretext for the British takeover of Egbaland, and its subsequent subsumption under the amalgamated Nigeria.

One area activist, Sobiyi Ponlade who was opposed to the Egba United Government policy of mandatory labor system had been accosted in Ajura village by travelling government officials including Edun Adegboyega and P.V Young. Sobiyi Polande died after his subjection to physical disciplinary measures inappropriate for his age. Ijemo people, convinced that justice had not been served, called for the removal of Edun, the Egba government secretary and of Alake, the king of Abeokuta. From 13 July, soldiers had been called from Lagos, and have returned in a fortnight without any action. The village meeting of 7 August in which the people of Ijemo insisted on the dismissal of the government secretary led to the recall of this armed troupe. Around 3:30pm on 8 August 1914, they opened fire on congregated villagers. This event, sparingly accounted for till date, was lamented by Christian and Moslem communities of Abeokuta who penitently observed prayer sessions to avert the wrath of God for the blood of the innocent shed.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer