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NANA OLOMUTHE FREEDOM FIGHTER Nana Olomu (1852–1916)

NANA OLOMU: THE FREEDOM FIGHTERNana Olomu (1852–1916) was an Itsekiri chief, palm oil merchant, freedom fighter and Governor of the Benin River from 1886 to 1894.Born in Jakpa to Chief Olomu (1810-1884), who had 59 wives and 106 children (53 male and 53 female), Nana Olomu successfully prevented European penetration of the hinterland of the Benin and the nearby rivers until he was captured and sent to exile in Accra in 1894.

Nana Olomu’s monopolistic control of trade in the Benin River stifled Urhobo traders and Europeans who now have their share of the trade significantly reduced. He signed a treaty on behalf of his people in 1884 that gave the British rights over Itsekiri. By this treaty, Itsekiri became the first protectorate in the Western Niger Delta, few years before the successive fall of Oba Nogbaisi Ovonramwen of the Benin Kingdom.

Olomu was oblivious of a section of the treaty which ended the sovereignty of Itsekiri. The treaty, which he supposed was specially his, was extended to the neighbouring Urhobo communities within the sphere of his commercial influence.When Nana Olomu realised that the British were planning to amalgamate the Itsekiri with the Urhobo and ultimately the entire southern Nigeria, he confronted the imperialists.

An action which conflicted with the terms of the 1884 treaty.In 1894, Nana Olomu attacked Urhobo villages that had abandoned the norm to trade directly with the British. By the end of that year, tensions had reached a head and the British stormed his fortress at Ebrohimi where they arrested and exiled him to Accra, Ghana with a stipend to cater for his needs while his business was taken away.However, Nana Olomu returned to his Itsekiri homeland in 1906. He died ten years later in 1916, survived by over 60 children. He was 64.