Monday, 19 December 2016




The Idomas of present day Benue State first settled, as a single Clan, in the defunct Kwararafa Kingdom, this was at about 500AD.

Owing to series of wars, the Idomas, along with their Igala and Jukun Brothers, migrated to Wukari.

While in Wukari, the struggle for rulership continued. The Jukuns lorded it over the other tribes. In those days, the King to be would be put in a canoe and allowed to sail. If he returned safely, he would be crowned King of the tribes. The Jukuns so manipulated the process that whenever it was the turn of either the Idoma or Igala, the canoe would capsize.

This rulership struggle, again, made the Idomas and the Igalas to leave Wukari. The Two tribes then settled at Idah, where they established a Kingdom – the Idah Kingdom.

The Idah kingdom was shortly threatened by warriors from the Jukun kingdom. At this stage, a young virgin and daughter to the then ‘Attah Igala’ Princess Inikpi, offered herself as a sacrifice and the Igala kingdom triumphed.

When the then ‘Attah Igala’ transited and it was the turn of the Idomas to ascend the throne, their Igala Brothers resisted.
There reason was that it was an Igala Princess that was sacrificed to preserve the kingdom and so the Idomas had no claim to the rulership of the kingdom.

Angered by this decision, the Idomas operated under clan heads. The clan heads operated both spiritual and political authority over the people. He was regarded as the ‘Oche’ (King) and exercised jurisdiction over a territorial land area.

The Clan Head derived his authority from the land (Aje), scepter (Okwute) and Royal beads (Oka). Therefore, a unique feature of a traditional Chief in Idoma land is the possession of the ‘Oka’ ‘Okwute’ in addition to a compulsory observation of a 7 or 14-day seclusion for purification rites. With the coming of the British administration, the sub-Clans in Idoma land, were adopted and grouped into twenty-two Districts. The districts so created served as administrative units of authority. District Heads were then appointed from among the beaded Clan Heads to fill the newly created positions.

Prior to the grouping of Clans into Districts, the Colonial Administration established zones and zonal Headquarters. They were Idoma West, with Headquarters at Ugbokolo, Idoma East, with HQs at Ito, Idoma North, with HQs at Iga Okpaya and Idoma South, with HQs at Utonkon. The intermediate Areas were later abolished.

The 22 District Heads met in Otukpo, on a regular basis, from 1923, in what was known as the ‘Ojira’ or Council of chiefs. At each meeting, the ‘Ojira’ appointed one from among themselves to preside.

The arrangement by which Idoma land were over seen by classified numerous district Heads but not centrally coordinated, created the need for centralized system of tradition rulership. The 22 District Heads came together in 1947 and established the position of the Och’Idoma, thus given the land the look of a federation of chiefdoms with the Och’Idoma as paramount.

In 1991, the Benue State Government promulgated the edict no. 4 of 1991, which provided for 2nd class Chiefs, Ward Heads and Kindred Heads, in addition to the already existing structure. This was done without adequate consultation with the Idoma Area Traditional Council and this introduced problems into the polity.

In view of the peculiarity of the Idoma Traditional system, the Idoma Area Traditional Council met and upgraded some members of the Council to the positions of 2nd class Chiefs. The reverse was the case in Tiv land as theirs seem to be an open system.


In the light of the above, the Idoma Area Traditional Council, in order to allow for a smooth implementation of the current Chieftaincy law, wish to state thus:

a. The Council should be allowed to recommend members of the Council to fill the graded positions so put forward by the law, as it did in the case of 2nd years back, in order to maintain the sanctity of the institution.

b. This has been the tradition of the Idomas, right from the Colonial days till date, in order not to bastadize the institution.

c. After the Clan/District Heads, the Council decides who occupies what position within the traditional system as has been the practice.

d. It is strange that some key Idoma sons that should know better are now planning to gate crash into the Idoma traditional system making it undefined before the world.

e. The Idoma Traditional system has always been a regulated system. This has made it unique and outstanding in the midst of other traditional system.
f. Deregulating the traditional system would affect our very fundamental and expose us to ridicule.

g. It is the duty of all Idomas to rise up in defense of this as individual interest will do us no good.

h. Posterity will not forgive us if we destroy our cherished tradition owing to our individual interest.

i. Idoma sons wishing to join the traditional institution should do so at the Clan Level and progress from there as the clan has remained the scalar organization of the traditional institution.

j. For the position of the newly created first class seats, the Idoma Area Traditional Council, as it is customary, should be allowed, at this initial stage, to appoint members of the Council to oversee the areas from their base until they are fortified traditionally.

k. It is only when the elders of the affected areas have come together to plant, the ‘Aje’, form ‘Okwute’ and ‘Oka’ that the seats could be said to have been fortified traditionally.

l. it is only then the seats could be open to all qualified Idoma sons just like the seat of the Och’Idoma.

m. For the 3rd class Chieftaincy seats, it should be noted that this is a re-introduction into the system.

n. According to our father, HRH, Och’Idoma II, in his write up “Method of selection of Chiefs in Idoma land”, majority of the traditional rulers that met at the ‘Ojira’ (Council) were third class, recognized by the country”. The traditional rulers referred to here, were the District Heads who eventually formed the seat of the Och’Idoma. Therefore, it is proper that the District Heads automatically occupy the 3rd Class Chieftaincy positions.

o. In conclusion, therefore, the Idoma Area Traditional Council appeals to all Idoma people to see this new development as a collective Idoma struggle.

p. We should rise above personal interest and defend the cherished tradition left for us by our forbearers. Our tradition is our identity. We lose this identity once we allow this tradition to be bastadize.


Chief Solomon Apochi (Och’Ugboju)
Joseph O. Adah (Secretary)
Chief Jacob O. Adoga (D/H, Igede Central)

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