Ivhia-Ibana or Iyabana or Ibana is an esoteric and mystic guild of initiates who dwell in the realm of the spirits and visit our world from midnight to the wee
hours of the morning, to administer justice by announcing enacted laws
by the elders and leaders of our society. They also pronounce curses and mete out punishments to offenders of the laws of the land. They are considered the representatives of our ancestors who live in the underworld.
They are known all over Avhianwu, Weppa Wanno, and Ekperi. Apart from Ibana, they are also known as IKUAWA. The name could be called as Ivhia-Ibana or Iyabana or Ibana.
Their shrine (EBO) is located in Okula, deep in the heart of
the jungle. They also have a representational abode located beside the village market. It has a conical shape made of zinc from the top to almost the ground. They also possess a mobile house, also of a conical shape, shaped with flowering clothes in which they travel around the village in the early mornings to dispense justice before retiring to their underworld.
Ivhia-Ibana, being a mystic band of nocturnal spirits, speak in muffled mysterious voices. Their language, called Igha, is highly encrypted and unearthly and requires an interpreter to convey messages to the uninitiated.
The night that they are performing, no woman or child is allowed to come outside of their house or see them.
The Ivhia-Ibana guild of nocturnal spirits was said to have been imported from the tribe of the Igala, in present day Kogi State via Anegbette in Etsako Central LGA, Edo State at about 1878 AD. The pioneers, Ogbhumhie from Ivhiobore, and Akhughie Odimhalo brought the
dance from Anegbette to Ogbona. Ogbhumhie was the first supreme leader (Ogadigbe). He was succeeded by Amedu Aghemheso, Ifaorumhe Okhoghiemhe, Akhughie Odumhalo, and presently, Akhughie Ilemho. And the present patron (Eri-Ibana) is Chief Joseph Eboitse Oshiotse.
a) They enforce laws on behalf of the Okphe-Ukpi and the elders of the land.
b) They pronounce curses on lawbreakers by camping around the offender’s abode for whole nights.
c) They provide entertainment during festive and funeral rites when invited.
There were some memorable events whenever Iyabana went to enforce the law. Their stock in trade was to pronounce curses, unleash mayhem, constitute a nuisance, and remain as thorns in the flesh of any culprit. No matter the situation, Ibana must have its way and hold any lawbreaker to account.
The infamous episode involving IDAYE and the Ivhia-Ibana remains indelible in our memory to date. Against the express prohibition against plucking mangoes from trees, Idaye, in defiance of the law plucked mangoes on his way to his farm. The Ivhia-Ibana, in carrying out their penalty, besieged his compound for seven nights and defecated around his entire abode in addition to raining curses on him till he paid the fine that was imposed on him.
One of the Iyabana episodes was with Eramha Apemheyie Asekomhe. Iyabana came to his house to hold him accountable for an offense. He revealed the identity of some of the members to his wife, Inaluba. Of course, it led to several nights of curses, defecations, and mayhems until Iyabana were appeased.
Another case involved T.Y. Abu who arrested Iyabana. He accused them of eating all the meat in his pot of soup. He gave a vivid description of the size of the chicken he used to prepare the soup. Basel Alabi, the then Ogadigbe, and John Ikhane were both taken to the police station in Fugar. Jacob Orbih was mandated to bail them out. T.Y. Abu insisted that Iyabana must pay for the pot of soup. In the end, Ibana was appeased.
I also remember that when we overcame the fear of Iyabana, we would leave for the stream or farm very early in the morning to see if we could catch a glimpse of Iyabana returning to the spirit world whenever they performed.



Godwin Asekomhe
Ivhiabana in the early 60s was so fearful and was seen as spirits from neither world. In those days no one dared them. Members were never seen physically during the day.
Before they come out, they would beat their wooding drum to inform and warn all indigenes, especially women, children and youths to stay indoors throughout the night. Any violation would attract serious capital punishment by flogging with canes. They had their ighala language duely and accurately interpreted by one of their members. If peradventure they had reason to stay till dawn they would construct a mobile hut that would cover them against being seen. Their identity was not known to women and children. They were so dreaded to the point that talking about them was not only fearful but also taboo. Ivhiabana was made up of old men then and we’re known as night masquerades.

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