Chieftaincy Institution and Military Formations in the Eastern Niger Delta of Nigeria

  • Edna Adagogo-Brown


This paper showed the military formations in the Eastern Niger Delta prior to Nigerian independence which the British colonial government tried to destroy in the wake of the establishment of the Protectorate of the Oil Rivers and Consular paper treaties. The Chieftaincy institution in the Eastern Niger Delta dates to at least 1000 years ago. After the migration story had been completed, the various communities that made up the Eastern Niger Delta commenced the early political and economic institutions with the ward or wari system of government and the long-distance trade with their neighbours. In the early fifteenth century, the Asimini ward in Bonny and Korome ward in Kalabari produced their early kings. The Chieftaincy institution assumed a greater relevance in the kingdoms of Bonny and Kalabari with the emergence of King Perekule of Bonny and King Amachree of Kalabari respectively. These two kings introduced the war canoe house political system in response to the slave trade which had increased tremendously with the entrance of Britain. The risks and the competitions among the City-states of Bonny, Kalabari, Okrika and Nembe-Brass to procure slaves necessitated the acquisition of war canoes to equip and constitute the military arm of the states. The war canoes provided security for the trading canoes and goods. Opobo City-state, the last in the Eastern Niger Delta in the last quarter of the nineteenth century lunched as many as sixty-seven war (Omuaru) canoes and other small units (kalawari) chieftaincy houses before the 1940s.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2070-0083
print ISSN: 1994-9057