By June 5,1885,Britain named her “sphere of Influence” (note the phase) from Lagos to River Rio Del Ray near Cameroun as “Oil Rivers protectorate “On May 13,1893,Britain proclaimed “Niger coast protectorate” as the new name for the Oil rivers Protectorate” With its own postage stamps which I have seen. The Kingdom of Benin remained resolute, proud and independent. But Britain desperately wanted a protectorate of southern Nigeria. That was the hidden Agenda.
Oba Ovonramwen of Benin in 1896 declined to to receive a British delegation for discussions on the ground that the Kingdom was in the midst of a great National Festival. Nevertheless, the British came uninvited. In the light of the then prevailing circumstances at the time, the unexpected arrival of the British was treated as a hostile act equivalent to a war situation. The British was attacked and defeated. Britain was indignant and felt that she now has an excuse to bring on board the recalcitrant Kingdom Benin.
The British military expedition included the father of James Callaghan, the former Labor Prime Minister. The kingdom resisted the attack bravely. The British called the Punitive Expedition. many people were killed, houses burnt, the palace looted, Great works of Art taken away. The king went to Calabar. The British took enough works of art to pay for the costs of the expedition. The fiercest and proudest Kingdom was sadly invaded in February 17, 1897.
On December 27, 1899, Britain at last was able to proclaim and promulgate the “protectorate of southern Nigeria” to take effect from January 1,1900 .
culled from 100 years after the invasion of Benin by Richard Akinjide,a former attorney General and Federal minister of justice.He is senior advocate of Nigeria .