History recalls that the 7th Obi of Uruagu (Uruagu was formerly an Isu Kingdom), Eze Orimili hired Igbuzo mercenaries against Oraifite and Ichi communities, not only did Igbuzo help Eze Orimili’s Uruagu to win the war but also had Akabo Oraifite and Akabo Ichi annexed to Uruagu, Nnewi. The appropriation of Akabo Oraifite and Akabo Ichi and close affinity with Ndi Olu exalted Eze Orimili above his contemporaries who feared and respected him while every of his actions were still suspected. This caused neighbouring communities to put an eye on him, monitoring his actions.
Dr Alutu, another Igbo historian described him as a ruler that wanted more, having achieved initial success with Igbuzo allies. He wrote thus:
“Eze Orimili was a pushful (sic) ruler and he had plans of subjugating not only towns around Nnewi but also Nnewi itself. He planned a surprise attack on Nnobi but the Eze Dunus revealed this to Nnobi”.
And indeed he attempted this with allied Olu (Ibusa) mercenaries. Prior to this period attacks on Nnewi was unthinkable. Eze Orimili’s attack on the town, therefore, rested on the overwhelming confidence he reposed on his Igbuzo allies but not without consequences.
Dr Alutu gave a brief account of the war as reproduced below:
“The first attack by the Olu mercenaries on Nnewichi was suffered only by the Abubos, but the evil consequences of that war were shared by both the Abubos and the Eze Oboos”.
However, it was not the only time Igbuzo would become involved in any ‘indirect’ war against Nnewi.
In what Igbo historians have termed “The Great Ibuzo War” or simply “Ibuzo War”, Moses Dike gaudily accounts the Ibuzo soldiers infliction of defeat on his Nnewi people.
He writes that:
“In revenge, Eze Afuogu family invited Ibuzor warriors from Olu against Uruezikeokwe, on the day of their annual get-together called Ime chi., they were killed and some of them scattered to every corner of Nnewi. The warriors as they were going back to their town, Olu, they reached the oldest market in Umumeagbu, a man called Ezemegbu fired his gun back to their captian, Ibuzor and he fell on the market. That market was called Afor Ibuzo… Afor Ibuzo, was removed to opposite Umeaghaukwu’s compound, where it is up to the present time and is called Nwafor Onukpo”.
Igbuzo was featured in the Otolo-Ezekwuabo war which began as a struggle under the leadership of Eze Okpo and Eze Agha. As the combat raged with battle appearing to favour Ezekwuabo, Otolo people quickly went for Igbuzo mercenaries who helped them defeat Ezekwuabo very decisively.
Extraordinarily, Igbuzo never suffered a defeat in its history of wars except in the hand of the British that carried out a surprise attack on the town. Ibusa was the first community to engage the British in what later spread to other parts of Anioma land known as “Aya Ekumeku”. In that war, the initial attack on the town by the British gave them (the British) the complacency that Ibusa was defeated never to rise again but how wrong they were for Ibusa was to resurrect from the ruins occasioned by the assault to match them in consequent battles that followed causing the British to sustain casualties that left them retreating for some time.
It did not take the British that arrived across the Niger so long to notice Igbuzo as the capital of western Igbo land (Anioma), which spelt doom for the town. If the British were to defeat Ibusa, it must resort to a surprise attack on the unsuspecting town and it worked for them.
Prof Ohadike illustrated it thus:
“Early in January 1898, the company’s soldiers left Lokoja and entered Anioma to assist the paramount chief of Issele-Uku and his supporters. But rather than attack the rebels and their Ekumeku supporters in Issele-Uku, the soldiers attacked Igbuzo, forcing the Ekumeku supporters to abandon their locations in and around Issele-Uku and to rush to rescue their headquarters. The forces of the Royal Niger Company, under the command of Lieutenant Festing maintained the attacks against Igbuzo for six weeks and eventually razing the town. They also killed and captured many Ekumeku warriors. The Issele-Uku rebels and their Ekumeku supporters seeing their capital (Igbuzo) in ruins, dispersed and William Wallace, the head of the company and Lieutenant Festing imposed a forced peace on Igbuzo”.
As Prof Joseph Egwu, a prominent Anioma Historian and Researcher recorded, the issue of what form of punitive measure to mete out to Ibusa for the enormous number of casualties inflicted on Britain was debated at the British Parliament for two weeks but it turned out that the other way round when the colonial masters decided that the community be made a point of extension of their educational and spiritual missions to the other parts of Anioma land.
The British may have been exceedingly troubled by the unending military campaigns associated with Igbuzo, some of which were “Aya Ogbu”, “Aya Ahaba” (Asaba), “Aya Ngiga”, “Aya Nwanodu”, “Aya Okpanam”, “Aya Okogwu” and “Aya Chidi”. At various times in the history of Ibusa, several people grew so powerful militarily and possessed the terrifying influence that the British considered portentous to their own interest. The British understood the close knit structure of the community and how impossible it was to diplomatically orchestrate divide and rule tactics among the people so they simply resorted to labeling such individuals mutineer and menace to the British economic interest within the region. Such people though heroes in the eyes of their own people were then sent on exile. It was thus as a result of this that Idaibo was exiled to Calabar by the British. To prove their disillusionment with the “Aluluaani” (depraved) act of the British, the people composed a beautiful song which they rendered to accompany Idaibo to Calabar. With the song Idaibo was forced to go on an exile to Calabar from where nothing else was ever heard from him.
As the Nigerian civil war loomed in 1966, well-trained professional soldiers of Ibusa extraction were on ground to fight the war on the part of the Biafran forces. Ibusa soldiers not only occupied strategic positions in Biafran military but played formidable roles in helping the young Biafran Republic resist the superior firepower of the Nigerian forces for three years.
Together with Asaba, Ogwashi-Uku, Igbodo and Ishiagu Igbuzo suffered a vapid pogrom, the very first massacre in Africa. The town was occupied by both Biafran and Nigerian forces at the time of the war. This community was a battleground and it left bitter feeling in the minds of indigenes.
Obi Mordi, the war time Senior Diokpa of Ibusa became of one of the hundreds of refugees inside St. Patrick’s College, Asaba. He played a great role that averted a very deadly progrom that was planned to follow the Asaba massacre by the 2 Division forces of the Nigerian Army led by Gen Murtala Muhammed (rtd) would die shortly after the supervisor of the camp; Rev Fr. Kunirum Osia brought him back to Ibusa. Soldiers of Ibusa origin were gallant and Major Albert Okonkwo is remembered especially for being the choice of the Administrator of the invaded Midwestern Region, making him the shortest world leader in history.
The pre-colonial military campaigns of the people of Igbuzo-Isu made their neighbours to respectfully nickname them Isunambogu and Isu fulu ogu ju nni. That Igbuzo-Isu is Ibusa. It is impossible to write the history of Ibusa without their hunger for war.