For years it has been stated by historians that Eze Chima who founded many Igbo kingdoms migrated from Ile Ife to Benin to Igbo Land. Added confirmation to this has come from the Ooni of Ife, who traditionally is a great historian of Ife.
Although the Ooni did not mention Eze Chima by name, he disclosed that many (not all) of the Aborigines of Ile Ife migrated from Ife to Benin to Igbo Land.
This is exactly what historians have been saying about Eze Chima, whose ancestors are said to have migrated from Nri to Ife, becoming Ife’s Aboriginal Obatala dynasty.
Speaking in an interview granted to a national publication in 2016, Oba Ogunwusi said, “This is my point, we don’t even appreciate the beauty of Moremi. She became a goddess of liberty that liberated her people. It was some people, the Ibos who took Ife into captivity”.
A Reporter, who wanted the statement clarified asked: “Kabiyesi, is it Ugbo or the Ibos?” And the Ooni replied, “It is the Ibos; here the real Ibos have a compound in Ife, the Oluyeri compound in Iremo, where the Igbo language is spoken.
“They are from Ife and you can trace many of them from Ife to Benin to Ibo land. Some of them will say they are from the Middle East but the people from the Middle East, left from Ife”.
Investigations carried out confirm the Ooni’s statement that there is indeed an Aboriginal Oluyare compound in Ife. It is a powerful compound that supports the Ooni. The Oluyare compound and its powerful chiefs have many historical and present-day links to the Obatala dynasty that used to reign in Ife before Oduduwa and the Oonis brought Yoruba rule.
The Oluyares have since assimilated into Yoruba culture but never forget where they came from. They remain a pillar of support to the Oonis of Ife. Their ancestors the Obatalas used to hold two interesting titles hundreds of years ago, namely, the Osere Igbo and Oba Igbo titles, among others.
Today Osere is a title in certain Eze Chima communities in Igbo Land, while Oba which is widely used by Yoruba monarchs, is also.used in Igbo communities like Nri and Ogba in Rivers State.
However, the Ugbo Ilaje Council of Elders, reacting to the Ooni’s statement, demanded an unreserved apology from Ooni for allegedly ‘distorting history, by referring to them as Igbos’. They even advised him to ‘clarify historical facts’ from the elders of Ife.
There was no reaction from Igbo towns named Ugbo, including Ugbo Kingdom in Enugu State, as well as Ugbo-Obi, Ugbodu, Onicha Ugbo.