The history of Eti Osa is not always complete without its colonial account.
According to Eti Osa intelligence report (most authenticated authority on Eti Osa chronology and colonial account written by colonial officers) which was published on December 8, 1949 and signed by T.F Baker, the history of Eti Osa can be traced to invasion of Lagos in the 17th century by the Benin people.
It says when Benin warriors invaded Lagos, the early settlers were compelled to move to Eti Osa in order to be protected from the war and subsequent coercion by the Benin. Although Baker pointed out that some people might have stayed in that locality prior to the time, there was no permanent settlement there before the Benin invasion.
The first set of chiefs who moved to the area then included the Ojomu of Ajiran as a White Cap Chief. He moved from Lagos Island to Eti Osa according to colonial account. He was subsequently followed by Elegushi who also relocated to his present domain.
The history of Ajah people was also traced to the Benin invasion of Lagos. However looking at the current ruling houses in Ajah – Ojupon and Ogunsemo, history says that they came from Ile Ife and stayed for some time on the Island and moved thereafter to Ajah. After they founded Ajah Town, they were instructed by the oracle to look for a place where the sound of the ocean could be heard. That led to the establishment of ‘Okun ti Ajah’ known as Okun Ajah.
Today, we have Okun Ile and Okun Ajah. The town was founded by two brothers. Due to recent terms of settlement that went to the Supreme Court, the Olumegbon factor has come in. As you are aware, the same term of settlement recognized Olumegbon as the overlord of Ajah even though it is still contentious. The term actually stressed that the Baale of Ajah shall remain a member of Eti Osa and Lagos State Chieftaincy.
Of course, it is a fact that when you go into an agreement and the court pronounces such agreement as valid, there is nothing you can do about it. In fact, such agreement which usually comes with about eight terms cannot be changed. For instance, the paragraph 8 of the terms was what I have just stated – the Baale of Ajah shall remain a member of Eti Osa and Lagos State Chieftaincy Committee.
What this implies is that chieftaincy titles were recognized by the colonialists because the gazette incorporated into the terms of settlement was dated as far back as 1957. Some of the contentious settlements gazette included five communities namely Ajiran, Elegushi, Ado, Langbasa and Ajah. They were recognized in 1957 and registered in 1958. The chieftaincy gazette was not meant for only Lagos alone but the whole of South West. The same gazette gave recognition to the Awujale, Oba of Ijebu Land.
Many settlements along the Ajah, Ajiran, Badore and other domains developed as a result of the Kosoko factor in Lagos history. You will remember that Kosoko went into exile in Epe as a result of Lagos cession to the British Crown in 1861. Many of those who followed him had to move into places like Sangotedo and its environs.
Back to our focal point, Ojomo is one of the earliest communities in Eti Osa. Before the 1940s, the whole of Ajiran, Elegushi, Ajah and other places (even though retained their individual ancestral names) were known as Ado area on the colonial map. There was no name like Eti Osa as at that time.
According to page 26 on Eti Osa Intelligence Reports (compiled by the late colonialist, T.F. Baker’s report), it states that this report would deal with villages of what is now known as Eti Osa, a track of land between lagoon and sea beach, 52 square miles in the extent of which western boundaries run eastward from the sea and about 3 miles from the east to Lagos Harbour. From this boundary, Eti Osa extends eastward for some 15 miles and it is nowhere more than 6 miles in width. The layout and the sequence is conformed as far as possible with directive from the acting commissioner of the colony via a letter dated 31st May, 1948.
How the name ‘Eti Osa’ came into existence
The name ‘Eti Osa’ came into existence during the time of His Royal Highness Oba Falolu, erstwhile Oba of Lagos. The name was actually given to the community by Eletu Odibo, prime minister to the king. It was he who suggested to the colonial masters based on its environment. He argued that this environment has the lagoon as well as the ocean, adding that giving it ‘Eti Osa’ is not out of order.
That was how the name changed from ‘Ado’ area to ‘Eti Osa’ area. You will recall that the settlement was originally named Ado area because it was the first colonial office. It was also the first community used by the colonialists to penetrate the whole of Eti Osa. In a nutshell, they came into Eti Osa through Ado, from where they took over Langbasa and subsequently Ajah which was converted to the headquarters of Eti Osa.