The Pre-Colonial Judicial System Of Esanland (A Case Study Of Irrua Kingdom)

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The Pre-Colonial Judicial System Of Esanland (A Case Study Of Irrua Kingdom)


The paper examines the nature the pre-colonial judicial system of esanland. It is argued that the various polities in pre-colonial Esan were able to use various entrenched local modalities to keep the peace and justice system functional in the area. Moreover, the study shows that although the area did featured large state political system borrowed from Benin kingdom and other places, the various Esan polities remained largely autonomous, they were by no means isolated from one another. On the contrary, they evolved harmonious living through different forms and levels of peacekeeping in times of conflict which created room for unity and cooperation.

Chapter Five


It follows that, within the individual polities in Esanland and among them harmonious living was ensured not only by intrinsic integrative forces and ingredients, but also by the peopleโ€™s ability to devise additional mechanism for communal living and peaceful coexistence. It is particularly instructive that the absence of large and expensive state systems like that of Benin kingdom in Esan did not mean that the groups were isolated from one another. Indeed, they were conscious of their common traditions of origins, kinship ties and share historical experiences and this helped to bind them together. This was further consolidated by economic factors and social cultural ties, the necessity to cooperate against external harassments particularly from Benin . We have also shown that although the polities were deeply united and cooperated to meet their challenges, their relations were not altogether without stains and stress. However, it is again instructive that inter-group conflicts were not only minimal; the groups were able to devise effective mechanisms both for the prevention of conflicts and management of peace. Thus the contemporary Nigerian state can learn from it especially in its greater emphasis on peacekeeping at all levels of the society and especially at the grassroots using traditional agencies to minimize criminality and conflicts; cultivation of good inter-ethnic and inter-community co-operations through visits by traditional rulers who are the royal ambassadors of their various communities; exchange of visits by state governors in order to promote mutual understanding; inter-state, interethnic or inter-group co-operations in the country. Internal crisis whether political or religious must be managed with minimum application of force so as to make reconciliation and early return of peace possible. The use of impartial elders and neutral agencies/bodies in peace negotiation cannot be over emphasized

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