OJO AGUNBAMBARU was one of the surviving sons of the renowned Basorun Gaa. He had escaped to the Bariba country at the general massacre of Gaa’s children and relatives During the reign of Aláàfin Abiodun.
None of Alaafin Abiodun’s numerous children succeeded him on the throne. Aole Arogangan, a tall and handsome prince, a cousin of the late King was elected in his stead.
Hearing of Aláàfin Aole Arogangan’s death and the present state of the deteriorating Oyo-Ile (Old Oyo Empire), he thought there could never be a more favourable opportunity for him both to avenge his father’s death, and also to obtain his title without opposition.
He returned from the Bariba country with an immense army, entered Oyo, and under the pretext of espousing the King’s cause, he put to death indiscriminately most of the influential citizens who were named as Afonja’s friends and allies.
The Òwòta, one of the “Esos” was the first victim of his ambition and revenge. On the whole, about 100 chiefs were despatched, who were either his father’s enemies, or who might have opposed him in his main object.
He now set off for Ilorin to measure strength with Afonja the powerful Kakanfo, whose father was one of those who swelled Kakanfo Oyabi’s army my for the overthrow of his father the Basorun Gaa, and who had succeeded the same Kakanfo Oyabi of Ajase in his title as Kakanfo.
If Ojo had acted with prudence, he might have succeeded without the slightest doubt but his indiscriminate slaughter of the chiefs and others in his track, and his threats against the Onikoyi, tended to weaken his own strength on the outset.
Fire and the sword marked his path to Ilorin, and so great was the dread of him, that such towns as Ogidi, Ogele and others, were deserted at his approach.
Adegun the Onikoyi being one of Afonja’s secret friends, was on his list for destruction but he was reserved till after the war. Both were kept informed of all Ojo’s movements, policy and designs by the Oyo people who followed him trembling, not really as friends, but rather as traitors, their minds having been prejudiced against him, on account of his excesses, and a secret combination was formed between them and the Onikoyi, to desert Ojo at the most critical moment.
Ojo’s army was further swelled by recruits from all the Yoruba towns who feared his vengeance should victory crown his efforts without their help and even the Onikoyi who knew himself to be a marked man, declared for him and swelled his army.
Afonja met this large army a great way off but he was defeated on three successive engagements. His army being completely routed he fled precipitately to Ilorin to fortify the town against the approach of the conqueror.
Ilorin had not been walled, and there was no time to think of doing so now, so he had to extemporise fortifications, erecting stockades with the locust and shea-butter trees.
At last, the final decisive battle was to be fought, Afonja and his army were hard pressed on every side, being shut up within their forts, and the town was on the point of being taken when Adegun the Onikoyi and his accomplices suddenly gave way, in the heat of the battle, and the great conqueror irretrievably lost the day.
The traitors fled away in confusion, but Ojo and his trusty Bariba troops retreated orderly. The Kakanfo could not follow up the victory by pursuing Ojo Agunbambaru from the dread he had of the Baribas, who were renowned for being good archers, and for their poisoned arrows.
Ojo Agunbambaru made good his escape with the remnant of his army. Being thus deserted by those whose cause he professed to espouse, Ojo Agunbambaru considered himself unsafe among them, and therefore returned to the Bariba country with the wreck of his army watching for another favourable opportunity.
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