• Gov. Ortom Says Idoma Nation Now More United, Peaceful
  • Och’Idoma Prayed Against Every Curse on his Kingdom
  • Tor Tiv Says Och’Idoma’s Enthronment a Value Addition to Benue Traditional Council

Thursday, June 30, 2022, will remain fresh in the annals of the Idoma Nation in Benue state as the Idoma Kingdom rolled out the drums to celebrate the coronation of His Royal Majesty, the Och’Idoma V, Chief Agabaidu Elaigwu Odogbo Obagaji John.

The ceremony took place at the Och’Idoma Square in Otukpo, the ancestral home of the Idoma people of Benue State.
Odogbo, aged 52 years old, emerged as the Och’Idoma V in a keenly contested election held in Otukpo on December 30, 2021, after he scored 19 out of the 28 votes cast by the kingmakers, leaving his closest opponent with eight votes, while the third contestant had only one vote.

The election of the monarch of the second largest ethnic group in Benue state came following the hunting expedition embarked upon by the last Och’Idoma, His Royal Majesty, Elias Ikoyo Obekpa, in October last year.
Although discordant tunes had trailed the process of his emergence with some people alleging an abuse of the Idoma tradition, culture and customs in the making of the king, others rejoiced greatly that the coming of the new monarch portends good news for the Idoma people.

At his coronation, six months later, the Otukpo town was in a near lockdown because of the heavy traffic to the venue. The occasion was graced by the crème de la crème in Idoma land and Benue, including friends of the Kingdom, First Class traditional rulers, eminent friends of the Idoma Nation, captains of industries and the political class.
The high-point of the event was when the Idoma monarch dedicated the Idoma land to God. He led his subjects and friends or visitors among his people in fervent prayer to the Almighty God to heal Idoma land and uplift and protect his subjects.
Special prayer sessions were also held for the Och’Idoma and his family, traditional rulers, and the governor of Benue state, Dr. Samuel Ortom.

Governor Ortom who led a team of government officials to the ceremony was in high mood having been the first governor ever in the state to perform the coronation of the paramount rulers of the two major ethnic groups in the state.
Performing the coronation ceremony and presenting the Staff of Office to the new paramount ruler of the Idoma Nation at the Och’Idoma Square in Otukpo, Governor Ortom noted that under his watch the traditional institution has made tremendous progress.

Speaking shortly before presenting the staff of office to the Och’Idoma, Ortom said the Agaba’Idu emerged through divine providence and, therefore, charged him to rule wisely in order to attract developments to his domain.

“Under my watch the traditional institution has made tremendous progress. The welfare of traditional rulers has been given top priority. Your Royal Majesty, your selection by the selection committee as the 5th Och’Idoma has undoubtedly brought joy to the people of the Idoma Nation.

“I have no doubts, whatsoever, that your reign will be peaceful. It is my further conviction that the support you are enjoying from your subjects will be sustained and together you can make the Idoma Nation better than you have met it,” the governor said.

Governor Ortom added: “It is, therefore, a great joy for me to be here to perform the coronation of the Och’Idoma and also to present a staff of office to him.

“It is my hope that before long we shall gather once again to commission a befitting palace for the Och’Idoma, which is about 90 per cent completed.”
In his acceptance speech, the Agaba’Idu, HRM, Elaigwu Odogbo John, pledged that fairness, equity, justice and peace would be his watchwords.
While dedicating the Idoma Nation to God, the paramount ruler, also pronounced peace upon Idoma land.

Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Benue state for the 2023 general elections, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Iormem Alia, in his congratulatory message to the new Och’Idoma, said his official enthronement marked the beginning of a huge responsibility to seek the face of God with honesty and sincerity of heart, to enable him to lead his people with wisdom, and the fear of God, as His faithful servant.
In message signed by the APC candidate, he said the ascension of the traditional duties also comes with many challenges and the ability to resolve them “which is why it is necessary to surrender the stool to God’s Holy Spirit, who has come to renew relationship with Him, and the subjects, to make the people understand everything that Christ teaches, for the glory of His Majesty to prevail, in the interest of peace, justice, and unity.”

Fr. Alia said, “As a quintessential servant of God, may He grant you the strength and a sense of direction to rule over the people with equity and justice.”
“On behalf of myself, family and the campaign team, I wish to join other well- meaning Nigerians to congratulate you on your coronation today, June 30, 2022, to rule over your people.”
Also, in his remarks, the Tor Tiv (V) and Chairman of the Benue Traditional Council, HRM Prof. James Ayatse, congratulated the new monarch, saying his enthronement had added value to the Benue Traditional Council.
He promised, on behalf of his subjects, the Tiv people, and the Benue Traditional Council to support the new Lion of the Idoma Kingdom to succeed.
Culled from www.blueprint.ng



Idoma History, Kings And Culture

The history of the Idoma ethno-linguistic group (tribe) is one of the most complex questions to answer even in pre-colonial Nigeria.
Idoma is the name of an ethnic group and culture that primarily inhabit the lower western areas of Benue State in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, referred to as Idomaland, though due to political delineation of the country into federating units called states, some of the people are found in the border states of Cross Rivers, Enugu, Kogi, and Nasarawa States in Nigeria.
Like most ethnic groups in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, the history of the Idomas is not backed by any organised documentation. Among the people, history is primarily passed through oral traditions and dance.
And owing to the fact that children are usually raised in the proximity of extended families, historical resources are ever made available to them.
It’s based on this that the Idomas generally would proudly tell you who they are, where they are from should necessity demand it, and won’t hesitate to recite at least four generations of their progenitors.
So, known to be the second largest ethnic group in Benue State after the Tivs, the Idoma people are predominantly the inhabitants of the nine local government areas in the western part of the state which are: Ado, Agatu, Apa, Obi, Ohimini, Ogbadibo, Oju, Okpokwu and Otukpo local government areas, with Otukpo town being the ancestral hometown where the throne of the paramount Monarch (i.e. the highest traditional ruler or king or royal father) of the people, known as the Och’Idoma) is located. It was the headquarters of the old Idoma Province created by the colonial masters. So Otukpo, also known as the Lions Heart and the Land of the Brave, is the traditional and administrative capital of the Idoma kingdom. Otukpo Town is a metropolitan town and the most developed place in Idomaland of Benue State.

A popular oral historical account traced the ancestry of the Idoma people to a legend called Iduh. Believed to be the ancestral father of the Idomas, Idu had several children, each of whom established the different communities of sub-groups with closer socio-linguistic affinity. Thus Iduh begot Ananawoogeno who begot the children of Igwumale; Olinaogwu who begot the people of Ugboju; Idum who begot the people of Adoka; Agabi who begot the people of Otukpo; Eje who begot the people of Oglewu; Ebeibi who begot the people of Umogidi in Adoka, Edeh who begot the people of Edumoga and Ode who begot the people of Yala who now found themselves in Cross Rivers State.
In terms of origin, an earlier myth on Idoma origin links the tribe to such ancient ethnic group as Akpoto (or Okposo), an ethnic group that has probably gone extinct to this time as no particular cultural settlement can be pointed at as the Akpoto people.
According to Samuel Ajayi Crowther, Akpoto people occupied most part of the land now inhabited by the Idoma, Igala, and Igbira. This theory is still a subject of study as researchers work on the evidences. People called Akpoto occupied quite a large territory of Niger-Benue confluence area. According to J. N. Ukwedeh, Akpoto can be considered as an autonomous group that played a significant role in the formation and development of Idoma, Igala, and Ebira groups. But it must be said that the term Akpoto still remains unclear as it is not specific about any of the modern tribes; it just describes the people around Ankpa region, eastern marches of Igalaland.
However, with several divergent and conflicting account as to the origin of this loving people, most historians agree with one account that has become so popular in modern history that the Idomas migrated from Apa in the ancient Kwararafa Kingdom after her disintegration. So it is believed that the Idoma group owe their origin to Apa (Beipi), capital of Kwararafa – a confederacy that was under the rule of Abakpawariga until the fifteenth (15th) century.
Kororofa (Kwararafa in Hausa), which existed between 1500 and 1840, was a multiethnic state and/or tribal confederacy centred along the Benue River valley in what is today central Nigeria. It was southwest of the Bornu Empire and south of the Hausa States. They rose to prominence before 1500, were in conflict with their more powerful neighbours in the 17th century, and were reduced to a small tribute state by the 18th century. Beyond 1500, It is believed, Wukari later emerged more popular and assumed the status of seat of power and administrative headquarters in the kingdom. Wukari is in present day Jukun land in Taraba State, Northeastern Nigeria. Preceded by the Nok culture, Kwararafa continued to lose hold of its multi-ethnic groups and kingdom until it finally ceased around 1840 in the Jihad campaign that swept across most part of what is today known as northern Nigeria, giving way to Wukari Confederacy. It is believed that Kwararafa was a confederacy conquest state, led by the modern Jukun people and that the Idoma group was one of many tribes of the confederacy.
Following chronic disquiet or unrest caused by persistent warfares in the area in the period between 1476-1503, there was a large migration in then Apa society. Among the migrating tribes, there were Idoma, Igala, Ebira and other groups. According to the and oral tradition and signages, at the beginning of the sixteenth century the Idoma tribe began to spread over large areas of Lower Benue. As a result, the tribe became widespread on the territory that is now inhabited by the Tivs, the Igala and modern Ebira.
It is also believed that the Idomas settled on the land of present-day Tiv before they were pushed to their present-day location and the others, to present day Nassarawa and Cross Rivers States.
There were also cases of migration inside Idomaland; this led to the emergence of some smaller groups as Igede, Akweya, and Ufia, etc. that form some micro-nationalities in Idoma territory. Researchers confirmed that by the end of the 18th century, the tribe had firmly established itself at its present location. It was a time when the tribe established its own political, social, religious and economic ideas and principles.
Going by all this account of Idoma origin and history it can be concluded that ancient Idoma people were involved in large migration from Apa kingdom and eventually found their present location.
Idoma people have beautiful and rich culture identified by red and black striped cloth which is the cultural emblem of the people. In other to foster a distinct identity, the Idomas, during the 80’s, decided to start using the red and black stripes as their traditional colour.

Idoma As A Social Group
Idoma ethno-linguistic group has their unique language – Idoma, classified as one of Akweya subgroup of the Idomoid languages in Volta-Niger family. With a population of about four million people, the Idomas have various dialects, and even sub-dialects. prominent dialects include: Idoma k’Enone (Western Idoma) that can be heard in Ogbadibo and parts of Okpokwu local government areas; Idoma k’Efficho (Northern Idoma) that is spoken in the Apa and Agatu regions; Idoma k’Otale (Central Idoma) spoken by the people of Ohimini LGA, Otukpo LGA, and the Edumoga part of Okpokwu LGA; as well as Idoma k’Ehaje (Southern Idoma) mainly spoken by Ado communities. Vowels are a prominent component words in the language as virtually all, except for some insignificant variations among dialect. Common personal native names among the people which always begin with a vowel sound or letter include: Oche, Eche, Adah, Ogwuche, Iduh, Okpe, Ewache, Odeh, Adakole, Ijachi, Agbo, Onah, etc. for males, while the females bear Ene, Oka, Ajuma, Ochanya, Achetu, Onyemowo, Onyowo, Oneh, oleme, etc. There are others that are unisex names that can be borne by both male and female, obite, Ehi among others.
The people obviously have one of the most fascinating cultures in Nigeria. Characteristically, the people of this tribe are known for their high level of hospitality in the way the relate with even other people who come their way as strangers, by ensuring adequate protection and social satisfaction for them. Idomas are very proud of their native heritage, and they preserved many ancient traditions, though as is the case in most parts of Africa today, the rich cultural heritage is fast getting eroded as inclination to Western culture and alien religious practices, which is being taken as part of civilisation, is getting deeper by the day. They are very sociable, brave and assertive in nature with a sense of high cultural esteem.The ethnic group has unique artistic expressions, tales, music, beliefs, and other culture elements.
Notable Idoma figures
Otukpo-born David Mark, former Nigerian Senate President, who served for 8 years to become longest serving Senate President, and former military administrator and minister; Abba Moro (from Okpokwu LGA), the incumbent Senator representing Benue South Senatorial District as the successor to David Mark who represented the people at the Senate for 2 decades, and former Interior Minister, former ALGON Chairman; Lawrence Onoja, former military governor; Chief Audu Ogbeh, former Minister, former PDP National Chairman; Maj. Gen. Chris Garba (rtd), former military governor; Jerry Agada, former State Minister of Education, author and essayist; Monday Riku Morgan, Air Vice Marshal, former Chief of Defense Intelligence; Moses Ochonu, author, historian; Brigadier-Genetal Emmanuel Ebije Ikwe (rtd); Bongos Ikwe, classic musician; Late Ada Ameh’s, Nollywood actress; Daniel Amokachi, former Super Eagles top player; 2baba Innocent Idibia, musician; the current Executive Scecretary of TETFund Arc. Suny Echono, and a host of others.
If there’s one thing that the Idoma people regret, it is the fact that in the almost 47 years history of the state, no Idoma indigene of Benue State has ever been governor save for deputy. It has been the Tivs back to back, hence the cry of political marginalisation among the the Idomas in the state.

Idoma belief
The Idoma people generally, like many other ethno-linguistic groups on the African continent, were traditionalists who practised traditional religion or what may be referred to as peganism with strong belief in Alekwu (ancestral spirits) oracle. However, this traditional mode of worship has over time lost popularity among the people with the coming of Christianity, Islam, and other religions later which has altered a lot of traditional practices across the country, of which the Idoma culture is not an exception. So most of the population have embraced Christianity while a few are into Islamic religion, leaving probably a trace as practitioners of the traditional religion.
Notwithstanding, a good number of them still believe strongly in the Alekwu, which is seen as the ancestral spirits- a link between the living and the dead.
As a matter of traditional fact, an annual ‘Eje Alekwu’ festival – a one-day get-together to celebrate the Alekwu with food and drinks, dances and other cultural activities which brings together sons and daughters from far and near, is being hosted in many parts among the people, though with enthusiasm and popularity that is enjoined alien festivals like Christmas and Easter celebrations. During this festival, traditional religious practitioners offer sacrifices and commune in the worship of their ancestors across the land.
With a very strong affinity to Alekwu, the spirit of the ancestors, the Idomas believe is standing as an unseen watchdog of the family and communities it detests vices like adultery, theft, and murder. For instance, for a wife, even up till today in most of the communities, to be seeing another man apart from her husband is highly forbidden and termed as a taboo in virtually all parts of the land, of which anyone who indulges in such faces the wrath of the spirit (Alekwu) which is usually destructive as it ultimately results in mysterious deaths in the family.

Idoma marriage
Although the marriage rites and customs of the Idoma people are similar to that of the Ibos and some other south-eastern cultures, there are specific aspects that distinguish their tradition with clarity.
In some Idoma subcultures, after the payment of the bride price, the groom and his family will present the bride with a rooster and some money on the marriage day.
Customarily, if the bride accepts, it is a sign of approval. However, if she rejects the gift, then it is a sign of disinterest. However, in these modern days, these rites are becoming increasingly de-emphasised as white wedding, usually administered by a head of a Church, priest or pastor as the case may be, in the Church with both the parents of the groom and the bride in attendance as witnesses.

Idoma Economy
Idoma economy is characterized by rainy-season agriculture and dry-season hunting. Large and small markets are held in rotation within the various districts. Within the general area, crafts such as the weaving and dyeing of cotton cloth and blacksmithing have been developed.

Idoma food and traditional colour
Popularly known for the love of good food, the Idomas usually host an annual food festival to celebrate the various traditional cuisines. For instance, most parts of Idomaland celebrate the beginning of a new yam season as New Yam Festival (traditionally called Achomuduje in parts of the Edumoga community) annually.
One unique and very popular cuisine among the people is the Okoho soup, a special brand of draw soup. The soup is made with the peculiar Okoho plant, bush meat, and other ingredients as well. The ripe ash-coloured stem of the herbaceous climbing plant is cut into desired lengths from the bush and taken home, after which it is made into fibres and kneaded in a bowl with added warm water to squeeze out the sticky draw juice used to prepare the soup. The name derives from the thick viscosity characteristic of the broth as it draws out of the bowl when eaten either with a spoon or, more characteristically, by dipping a small piece of solid (fufu) into it. It can be served with numerous Nigerian fufu meals, including eba (garri).
Dance is a predominant aspect of the people’s folklore. Their very popular traditional dance called ogirinya is known all over the country. Other forms of dance such as alime, ajah, ejeanya, etc. also exist, with most of passing fast into oblivion as ‘modernity’ takes its toll on cultures.


Traditional Administration
Benue State Government established a three-tier traditional council system that is, in their ascending order, made up of: Local Government Area Councils; Area Traditional Councils which are The Tiv Traditional Council, The Idoma Traditional Council, and The Igede Traditional Council respectively; and the uppermost – The State Council of Chiefs, under which all the aforementioned function within the state’s traditional administrative structure.
The Idoma people have one paramount traditional ruler (King) called the Och’Idoma who is the head of the Idoma Area Traditional Council. This was introduced by the British. Under him are royal fathers who the chiefs of the component parts that constitute the Idoma kingdom, e.g., Ad’Enone (i.e. Western Idoma {or Ogbadibo} Chief); Ad’Enochi (i.e. Father or Chief of the southeastern Idoma comprising communities in the Ado area. Under these heads comes clan heads, and ‘Ijachis’ (village heads) who administer their respective domains, performing some key functions such as overseeing the process of tax collection as was the case in colonial days. Information flow within the system is characterised by vertical and horizontal communication. The current Och’Idoma and Head of the Idoma Area Traditional Council is Comrade (Pastor) John Elaigwu, (Odogbo Obagaji) who happen to be the Och’Idoma V (5th) on the revered sacred throne since its inception in the colonial days. HRH, Pastor (Dr) Agabaidu John Elaigwu Odogbo was officially crowned as Och’ Idoma V on Thursday, 30 June, 2022 at the Och’ Idoma square in Otukpo the traditional headquarters of the Idoma people in Benue State amidst pomp’s and pageantry, signalling a new era in the history of the Idoma Kingdom. The coronation was performed by the Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom which present the Staff of Office to the new Och’ Idoma at the Och’ Idoma Square in Otukpo, the ancestral home of the Idoma people.
Odogbo, aged 52, emerged as the Och’Idoma V in a keenly contested election held in Otukpo on December 30, 2021, after he scored 19 out of the 28 votes cast by the kingmakers, leaving his closest opponent, Sunday Echonu (now the Executive Secretary, Tetiary Education Trustfund, TETfund) with eight votes, while the third contestant, Andrew Idakwu had one vote.
The election and coronation of the monarch of the second largest ethnic group in Benue state followed the hunting expedition embarked upon by the last Och’Idoma, His Royal Majesty, Elias Ikoyo Obekpa, in October 2021.
He succeeded the immediate past and Och’Idoma IV (4th), His Royal Highness (HRH) Elias Ikoyi Obekpa, after he finally joined his ancestors. Before Obekpa were HRH Agabaidu Edwin Ogbu as Och’Idoma III (3rd), HRH Agabaidu Ajene Okpabi as Och’Idoma II (2nd), and the pioneer royal father, HRH Agabaidu Ogiri Oko who was installed as the pioneer Och’ Idoma (Och’Idoma I) following the creation of the throne as the office of the head of the then Idoma Native Authority in 1947 by the colonial masters.
Biography of the Och’ Idoma in Brief
His Royal Highness (HRH), Agabaidu John Elaigwu Ogbodo (Och’ Idoma V, and incumbent, July, 2022 and counting)
The Och’Idoma-elect, who is of the Deeper Life Christian denomination was born on March 27, 1969, as the 5th born to the family of Mr Elaigwu Ekoja in Obagaji the headquarters of Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State.
The Och’Idoma graduated from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria in 1994 with B.Sc. Honours in Accounting and a Master’s in Business Administration from Benue State University in 2012.
The new Och’Idoma also has a Post-Graduate Diploma in Education from National Teacher’s Institute as well as an M.Sc in Accounting and Finance, Nasarawa State University, Keffi and Doctor of Philosophy in Accounting from Nasarawa State University Keffi.
He is a Fellow of Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (FCITN), 2001, Fellow Certified National Accountants of Nigeria, (FCNA), 2002 and also an associate member of Nigeria Institute of Management, NIM.
Comrade Elaigwu started his professional career and worked with Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS for 23 years and rose to the position of Assistant Director.
He also held so many positions in the organisation, one of which included Chairman, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria for two tenures from 2004 to 2012.
He also served as National Ex-officio of the same Association from 2012 to July, 2018.
His Royal Majesty Elaigwu comes to the traditional institution as an erudite trainer (resource person in FIRS) and a thorough professional with vast experience in taxation and accounting through international training and development.
Incumbent Och’ Idoma Speaks to Idomas in USA
The current Och’Idoma, HRH, Agabaidu Pastor John Elaigwu following his coronation as the fifth Och’ Idoma at the end of June, was in the United States of America (USA) where he presented what could be described as his first landmark speech while attending this year’s convention of the Idoma Association USA. Here’s is the speech.
Being a Text of a Speech Presented to Delegates at the Idoma Association USA by Agaba-Idu HRM Elaigwu Odogbo Obagaji John Och’idoma V Bloomington MN 6th August, 2022.

The Dynamic Fluidity of Culture
It is my singular honour to be among you, my sons and daughters, here in the US on this auspicious occasion. It is more than a mere coincidence to be in such august company in August.
I am particularly impressed by the unity, love and camaraderie amongst you, the Idoma Association USA, which explains why you can organize this event annually. This signifies what the culture-inspired can-do spirit of the Idoma people is. It is therefore no mistake that the convention is themed IDOMA CULTURAL HERITAGE. It is a heritage of great values and all of us are the true custodians.
I must also sincerely thank all of you here especially for upholding the honour and glory of the Idoma here, for enhancing the unity among you and for playing active roles in the economic growth and development of this country and by extension that of Nigeria. We are indeed very proud of you for being good ambassadors of Idoma extraction.
What we generally know about the culture of people is that it changes with time and can be challenged by emerging realities of the times and season. Take, for instance, the stool of the Och’Idoma which I sit on was created by the British administration in 1947 for ease of administration and control. Before the creation of a central stool, we had 22 distinct district beaded chiefs. One of them, His Royal Highness, Ogiri Okoh, the Alegwu of Adoka, was then selected to be Och’Idoma 1.
It is trite to remind us that HRH Ogiri Okoh remains the only Och’Idoma that was selected from among the 22 district beaded chiefs; all the other Och’Idomas were selected from the pool of eminently qualified Idoma sons. Because of this, my selection was not a version of what ought to be done. This speaks to the swiftness with which something one considers cultural can change to pave the way for the growth and development of the people. People and race must give way to change to thrive, especially if the change is not harmful and injurious to society.
The Chieftaincy Law of 2016 as approved by the Benue State House of Assembly was not the first Act enacted by the House. What the law did was to show us that people are created by God and that under no circumstances should a clan or a particular set of people claim superiority over another, the law has created first, second and third-class chiefs to do the job of selection. Each Local Government was given equal opportunity, or the equality of opportunity, in the number of kingmakers, and so also was the Intermediary Area Council. The fluidity of culture is at play here. The idea is that people should be able to compete on equal terms, or a level-playing field, for advantaged offices and positions.
As people move around and mix with others through trading, education, and the coming of Christianity and Islam, a lot of what was practised as tradition got eroded as the mind expanded and advanced. This is so especially because, like most groups in Nigeria, the Idoma has no written history. Be that as it may, historical facts are mostly passed down orally or through memorization. Little wonder an average Idoma kid could recite at least four generations of their progenitors.
Some major cultural traits of the Idoma remain their kind disposition, trustworthiness, friendliness and bold honesty, which, they carry proudly as their totem of cultural heritage wherever they find themselves.
Besides these cultural traits that have distinguished us as some of the most hospitable people on God’s earth, we also have symbolic cultural practices which give us a distinct cultural identity such as our dances, masquerades, songs, storytelling and attire (red and black Apa), speaking of which my emergence has seen this clothing metamorphosed into four colours, namely Red, Black, Blue and White to signify a more unified Idoma nation, hence our new cultural garb would now be referred to as ‘Opiatoha’ (togetherness). I fervently hope that my people will understand my vision, part of which is expressed by this change, which is the only constant thing in life. A change for the better, they say, is always appealing.
Remodelling of Och’Idoma Palace
Our infrastructural cultural heritage is the Palace of the Och’Idoma in Otukpo, our ancestral home. This is currently remodelled to a more befitting edifice, which will also serve as a Resource Centre for Idoma studies and other related activities To this end, my reign shall see a rise in what I describe as the “Idoma Theatre Series” – The Telling of Our Own Story.
Idoma Theatre Series
The Theatre Series shall be dedicated to Idoma myths and legends and serve as a form of cultural conservation, preservation, transformation, and spiritual uplift and entertainment to the Idoma and visitors alike. There can never be a heritage without a deliberate effort to preserve, transfer and keep it.
The Idoma Theatre Series would recruit storytellers, songwriters, scriptwriters, poets, dramatists, stage directors, costume managers, etc.
The program would seek local and international endorsement, coverage and patronage.
To this end, may I use this medium to call on you all to become worthy partners of this noble cause. It is hoped that these short stories, dramas and poems will become bestsellers in the nearest future.
The stage for all of these events will be the prestigious Och’Idoma Square, in the Palace of the Och’Idoma, Otukpo, Benue State.
The project has the potential for the promotion of the Idoma nation and culture globally and will attract foreign investors in tourism to the region.
The Idoma Theatre Series in recognition of the exigencies of the times we live in shall employ the use of technology and ICT, feature the New Media Advantage, get poems done and sent in as blogs and podcasts, and create YouTube Channels and build a boot camp and Idoma Theatre Academy.
We shall partner with universities and colleges and other reputable organizations across the globe known for cultural advancement.
Future Concept
It is to be noted that Idoma as a nation has no written vision, mission, ethics, objectives and core values except the one handed down from generation to generation orally. The language has not been chronicled such that our kids can be taught right from primary school to any level of education how to read, write and communicate fluently in Idoma. All this shall be discussed with relevant stakeholders and shall be unveiled once the palace is completed and commissioned.
Finally, I believe that the Idoma culture as a heritage, which is our cultural and general way of life, is a worthy commodity of immense export value as being showcased by the Idoma Association USA today.
I am committed to sustaining, improving and enriching our shared heritage, especially working towards preserving and archiving our history to make it not only available but accessible to all desirous of gaining native Idoma knowledge from anywhere in the world.

I, HRM, Elaigwu Odogbo Obagaji John, stand here today in the centre of history, having accepted my selection and taken my place in a long line of succession to the great throne of the Idoma nation as Agaba Idu the 5th Och’Idoma. I do so with a great sense of gratitude and humility and grace the occasion as OchIdoma V.
I, therefore, pay tribute and homage to my predecessors who served our people by the powers of this throne and have joined our ancestors.
I stand today as the next link in the chain started by His Royal Highness Chief Ogiri Okoh and carried on by Chief Ajene Okpabi, Chief Edwin Ogbu and Chief Elias Ikoyi Obekpa whose recent hunting expedition has occasioned my election as the Fifth Och’Idoma. As enunciated in Nigeria’s national anthem, I make bold to say that “The labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain.”
It is interesting to note that the period between my selection on 30th December 2021, to my coronation on 30th June 2022, and now has been a season of deep reflection and prayers for me, as the burden of leading God’s people weighs heavier on me with each passing day.
Every congratulatory visit or felicitation in writing has conveyed with it a unique burden of the task ahead and the inadequacy of human wisdom and strength required for the making of a resilient and repositioned Idoma nation that can successfully navigate the socio-economic, political, cultural as well as religious waters ahead. This has compelled me like the young King Solomon of old to constantly request God to grant me the wisdom to lead His people to glory.
The challenges facing the Idoma nation are enormous. These challenges include socio-economic backwardness, insecurity, the erosion of the positive values of our culture and tradition, disunity and crime. I am optimistic however that by the help of God and our collective resolve, a new Idoma nation will rise that is characterised by rapid socio-economic development where opportunities abound to all and poverty is defeated in every family.
I see a new Idoma nation where we unite against all the forces that have vowed to render our land desolate and make us refugees in our legal homesteads. We shall defeat them because anywhere the oppressed unite, the oppressor will always become the victim.
Let me pause here to commend the courageous leadership of Governor Samuel Ortom that has paved the way for the appreciable level of peace we have enjoyed in Idomaland and by extension, Benue State. In the words of Winston Churchill, “History shall be kind to you for we shall write it.”
My reign as Och’Idoma will see to a new dimension of collaboration with the Government of the day and well-meaning organisations and individuals to enthrone justice, equity, fairness and the rule of law.
On my watch, we will work assiduously to revive our value systems, culture and tradition that are gradually being eroded by the unfair impact of modernization and the absence of a system of trans-generational transfer.
I wish to point out that the hallmark of a people’s culture does not consist of inimical practices that are an expression of savage and barbaric tendencies that endanger lives and limit the abilities of the people to compete favourably and assert their identity and rights in an ever-changing world. While we strive to preserve our heritage, we must adapt to the demands of a changing world or become obsolete and irrelevant.
A progressive tradition must see to the elimination of evil and the fertilization of all that promotes our collective good. This we commit to actualizing during my reign. The Idoma nation is known for its hard work, honesty, fairness, courtesy, friendliness, peace, excellence, courage and beauty. We shall continue to promote these values.
We are mindful of the messengers of disunity who seek to divide our voices for their selfish gains. On my watch, they shall not succeed.
Our history remains that of a resilient nation forged through centuries of peace and conflicts which have only helped to bind us together rather than divide us. We shall continue to reinforce the pillars of oneness that support the development and the historic principle of the rotation of our ancestral stool and throne among our respective intermediaries. Like the proverbial broom strands, we are stronger only when we are together.
I am deeply concerned about the rising wave of crime in Idoma land. Robberies, kidnappings, theft and communal clashes are fast taking over our land. Our youth have fallen prey to the deception of cultism, violent gangs, drugs and cyber fraud popularly known as Yahoo, Yahoo.
These practices are alien to the Idoma nation where we believe in the virtue of hard work and earning a living from honest labour. During my reign, there will be zero tolerance for crime as we birth a new Idoma land of peace, safety and honesty by all and for all. To this end, our youth who are engaged in these nefarious activities must retrace their steps or face the full wrath of the law.
We will commit to building a sustainable cross-border policy anchored on mutual prosperity and safety with all our neighbours, through intelligence sharing and collaboration against crime. The State and Local Governments can count on us as veritable partners in security and peace-building.
Idoma land has in recent times come under unprovoked attacks by bandits, militants and criminal elements. These attacks have left many of my sons and daughters dead with scores of them displaced and property destroyed. From Agatu to Okpokwu to Oju to Ado, my people are still facing threats on their farmlands. While we call on the Federal Government to live up to its constitutional responsibilities of the protection of lives and property of its citizens, I urge all of our people to rise in defence of our common rights to live in peace and to engage in our economic activities for our individual and collective prosperity. I want to put it on record that the Idoma nation has never been conquered before and will never be reduced to slaves in a modern dispensation, not on my watch.
As a father, I pledge to run an open and inclusive system that embraces all regardless of political or religious affiliations. My doors shall be as open to all as my heart.
My reign shall be anchored upon the fear of God, passion for truth and love for my people.
I pledge to uphold the principle of teamwork, servant leadership and grassroots engagement. We shall be big enough to cover all yet small enough to reach one.
The focus of my reign among other things shall be God’s government over Idomaland, security for every district, clan and family.
There shall be economic opportunities for individual and collective prosperity through the promotion of the culture of enterprise and profitable partnerships both locally and internationally.
We shall be dedicated to the promotion of the study of the Idoma language, history and culture in the pursuit of a more robust Idoma identity.
With the support of my experienced and loyal Council of Chiefs, we are set to deliver on our collective vision of a resilient and prosperous Idoma nation.

Our land is suitable for the production of notable cash crops like cassava, sesame, rice, ginger and palm trees. Kindly assist us in providing processing factories that will add value to the efforts of our farmers.
We call on the Federal and State Governments of Nigeria to turn their searchlight of infrastructural development on the nine Local Government Areas of Idoma land where our community link roads are in a bad state of repair and require urgent attention.
With skills acquisition centres spread across our Local Governments, our youth can be mobilised into an army for economic development instead of engaging in criminal activities.
With cottage processing industries in our villages, our rural economies will come alive again.
To all my sons and daughters in the legislative chambers back home, I charge you all to ensure that your constituency projects happen within the constituencies and not on paper. To all my sons and daughters engaged in business here in the US and in any other country, it is time to start some back-to-Idomaland economic development projects that will tap our abundant natural and human resources towards creating sustainable rural prosperity. Charity they say begins at home.
At the state level, we will continue to work out an amicable political framework that will facilitate the emergence of an Idoma Governor in no distant future. In the interim, I appeal to the incoming Governor to see to it that certain roles like the Secretary to the State Government are restored to the Idoma people. This is what I will be working tirelessly to achieve, and with God on our side, we shall succeed.
Royal Blessing
On this day, the 5th of August, 2022, I stand as a king under the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, I also stand in the name of Jesus Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, to bless my sons and daughters here in the US and the land and people of Benue State. I bless the entire Idoma nation with peace. May the schemes of all mischief-makers against our collective peace come to nought. Every curse in Idomaland is removed by the power of the Holy Ghost. I pronounce blessings and blessings for all in Idoma Land in Jesus’ name.
I bless the land with prosperity. May the rain of the heavens and the fatness of the earth be the portion of the Idoma nation. I declare that the land of the Idoma will frustrate and swallow every satanic altar that limits progress. YOUR LABOUR HERE IN A FOREIGN LAND SHALL NEVER BE IN VAIN. I close the gates against epidemics, sicknesses and untimely deaths in Idoma land, and, by extension, you in the diaspora. No more shall the fathers bury the children.
I bless all of my sons and daughters at home and in the diaspora. May the favours of the Almighty God defend you and distinguish you in all your endeavours. May you continue to excel on every side.
I bless the Governor and Government of Benue State. May the God of heaven bless you and preserve you. The evil desires of the enemies of Benue State shall not prosper. Instead, the counsel of the God of heaven shall prevail over Benue State.
May I pause here to sincerely thank all of you for inviting me to this convention. I pray that the Almighty God grant you all your heart’s desires. Thank you all for making me a part of this illustrious company. Our meeting today is no doubt a landmark in the history of the Idoma nation.
Your warm reception and hospitality are second to none. May our cultural norms and beliefs remain indelible in our hearts. Let us work together to preserve our cultural heritage in a Godly way.
Thank you for listening and God bless you all.
Long live Idoma Association in the USA
Long Live the Idoma Nation
Long Live Benue State
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Summary notes on current Och’ Idoma’s four predecessors in chronological order
HRH, Agabaidu Elias Ikoyi Obekpa, the Och’ Idoma IV
HRH, Agabaidu Elias Ikoyi Obekpa, the Och’idoma IV, was born on 31st December 1944 to the family of Chief Obekpa Onoja of Ipol’ Otukpa in Ogbadibo Local Government Area.
After obtaining his First School Leaving Certificate from St Mary’s Primary School, Otukpo, HRH Obekpa proceeded to St Enda’s Teachers College, Bassawa-Zaria (the college later became Bassawa Teachers College in 1973 before becoming the present day FGGC Zaria in 1998).
HRH, Obekpa later graduated with a Teacher Certificate Grade II, which was the minimum requirement to teach in primary schools prior to 1998 when Nigerian Certificate in Education (NCE) became the prerequisite, and taught in a primary school in Samaru-Zaria from 1967 to 1968 before transferring his service to the Benue-Plateau State Government.
He left in pursuit of further education at the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University
(ABU) Zaria in 1971 where he studied Business Administration, graduating with a BSc (Honours) degree in 1974 and completed the then newly introduced National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, in Cross Rivers State during the 1974/75 service year.
On return to the Benue-Plateau State Civil Service after his study leave and national service, HRH Obekpa changed career and became a Tax Administrator in the Ministry of Finance.
Upon the creation of Benue State in 1976, HRH Obekpa’s service got transferred to Benue State Civil Service and he continued to excel as a Tax Administrator, rising to the position of Director of Tax Administrator in
1993. And in recognition of his good = qualities, he was appointed the Chairman and Chief Executive of Benue State Board of Internal Revenue, BIRS in 1994.
Not one to rest on his laurels, HRH O« studied for an executive management = at Arthur D. Little School of Managem: Cambridge, Massachusetts (now Hult International Business School) and graduated in 1982 with an MSc in Business Management. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria.
Following the death in April 1996 of HRH Agabaidu Edwin Ogbu, the Och’Idoma III, it was no surprise when HRH Obekpa was chosen by the Idoma kingmakers his successor. HRH Obekpa then left BIRS to become the Och’Idoma IV at an event full of pomp and ceremony in Otukpo in December 1996.
In his 25 years on the throne, HRH Obekpa built a reputation for being a man of peace and harmony, playing pivotal roles in reconciling politicians and thought leaders of differing opinions. He oversaw a massive improvement in the relationships between communities in Idoma and as well as with neighbouring tribes. HRH Obekpa was also credited with being responsible for the high level of respect Chiefs and District Heads now enjoy in Idoma land.
On 30″ September 2006, the Federal
Government conferred on HRH Obekpa who was the Chairman of Idoma Traditional Council and Vice Chairman of Benue State Council of Chiefs, a national honour, the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) for his contribution to the promotion of peace, unity and harmony in Nigeria.
HRH Obekpa was the Chancellor of Federal University of Kashere and was married to Chief (Mrs) Florence Alametu Obekpa (nee Edache), a retired Nursing Matron for 52 years and their long marriage was blessed with nine children (three sons and six daughters).
Sadly, HRH Obekpa departed this world on 9th October 2021 and was buried in the early hours of 10″ October 2021 in line with Idoma traditional rites for Chiefs.
HRH, Dr Edwin Ogbede Ogbu (Och’ Idoma, 1996 – 1997)
HRH, Dr Edwin Ogebe Ogbu, the first degree holder in present day Benue State, was born on 28 December 1926 to Chief Ogbu lyanga, the paramount Chief of Utonkon and Mrs Eje Ogbu. He attended primary schools in Utonkon and Igumale before proceeding to the famous Methodist College Uzuakoli in 1938 where he excelled and came out with division one in the Cambridge School Certificate Examination (one of the precursors to modern day Senior School Certificate Examination) in 1945.
In 1948, Edwin Ogbu gained admission to Bethune Cookman College (now Bethune-Cookman University ) in Daytona Beach, Florida and graduated with a combined honours degree in Sociology and Anthropology in 1951, making Edwin Ogbu the first degree holder from present day Benue State. In 1953, he proceeded to the prestigious
Stanford University , Palo Alto in California and graduated in 1955 with an MA in Education.
Edwin Ogbu returned to Nigeria in 1956 and joined the Northern Nigeria Government in 1956 as Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Finance. He was the third most senior official in the ministry after the Finance Secretary and Senior Assistant Secretary. As Assistant Secretary, he was involved in formulating and implementing the monetary policies of the Northern Nigeria Government.
In 1958, he transferred from the Northern Nigeria Civil Service to Federal Civil Service and was posted to the Nigerian High Commission in London as Deputy Secretary in charge of Students Affair. As Deputy Secretary, he used his experience as a foreign student in the US to great effect and the High Commission was able to provide quality consular services and support to Northern Nigerian students in the UK.
Edwin Ogbu returned to Nigeria upon independence in 1960 and was appointed Secretary of the Federal Civil Service Commission where he championed the case of recruiting suitably qualified people into the Federal Civil Service which he considered the bedrock of the federal government. He was at the Federal Civil Service Commission until 1962 when he was promoted to the position of Permanent Secretary at Federal Ministry of Works & Survey. There he was heavily involved during the planning stages for the construction of River Niger Bridge in Onitsha and the Kainji Dam.
In 1963, he was transferred to the Federal Ministry of Finance as Permanent Secretary to help realise the objectives of the First National Development Plan (FNDP) introduced the previous year. Dr Edwin Ogbu remained at the Federal Ministry of Finance until after the military coups in 1966 when he moved to the Federal Ministry of External Affairs as Permanent Secretary where he helped formulate the foreign policy of the new military government.
He was with the Federal Ministry of External Affairs In February, 1968, the Federal Government of Nigeria posted him to United Nations (UN) in New Year as Nigeria’s ambassador to the UN. This appointment was during the height of the Nigerian Civil War and it was evident that his diplomacy skills were needed to articulate Nigeria’s position as the war raged. Even after the war ended in 1970, he continued at the UN until September 1975 when he retired from public service, making him one of the longest serving Nigeria’s ambassadors to the UN.
Despite his stature as a diplomat in the 1970s, Edwin Ogbu still paid close attention to events in Idomaland and was part of the group that were instrumental in the establishment of Idoma Community Secondary School, Otobi (now Federal Government College) in the early 1970s.
During his lifetime, Edwin Ogbu received several honours and accolades. Prior to being honoured by some Nigerian universities, in 1974, his Alma Mater, Bethune Cookman College awarded him an honorary Doctor of Law degree for his service to public service.
After the creation of Benue State in 1976, Dr Edwin Ogbu was appointed the Chairman of the Governing Council of the newly established Murtala College of Arts, Science and Technology, Makurdi (present day Benue State Polytechnic Ugbokolo). He was also the first Chairman of Council and Pro-Chancellor of University of Maiduguri and in 1992, he was appointed the first Chairman of Governing Council & Pro-Chancellor of Benue State University, Makurdi; the first State owned university in Northern Nigeria.
The contribution of Dr Edwin Ogbu were also recognised by Idoma people and in 1995, the Och’ldoma II, HRH Dr. Ajene Okpabi , made him the “Ochojila K’ldoma” a traditional title which translates into leader of Idoma people.
Dr Edwin Ogbu continued his service to Idoma community and when Ajene Okpabi passed away in 1995, he was made the chairman of the Central Planning Committee of the transition of Och’Idoma.
Dr Edwin Ogbu was an overwhelming favourite to become Och’Idoma and it was no surprise when he was announced as the Och’Idoma III on 10th January 1996. His ascension to the throne, gave the position of Och‘Idoma more prestige and credibility due to his stature in world politics. Unfortunately, HRH, Dr Ogbu passed away in 1997 before he could really establish his mark as Och’ldoma.
HRH, Dr Edwin Ogbu has a place in Idoma folklore, as there is a popular saying that translates into “no matter how hard you study, you cannot be better educated than Dr Edwin Ogbu lyanga”. This is in recognition of his place in Idoma history as her first graduate.
HRH, Agabaidu Ajene Okpabi (Och’ Idoma II, 1960 – 1995)
His Royal Highness, Agabaidu Abraham Ajene Okpabi, Och’Idoma II was born in 1924 in Ito district of present day Obi Local Government Area of Benue State.
HRH, Ajene Okpabi attended Idoma Metropolitan Primary School Otukpo (now Methodist Central Primary School Otukpo) between 1932 and 1940 where his leadership qualities were first noticed and he was made Head Boy in his final year in primary school.
After leaving primary school, HRH Ajene Okpabi worked as a health worker until 1952 when at the age of 28, he was appointed the Okwubi (district head) of Ito.
With this appointment, he also became the President of the |Idoma Native Authority (NA) Area Court in Ito District. His reign as Okwubi was popular with Idoma NA administration as this period was renowned for growth in tax collection, commerce and primary education within Ito district.
As a reward for his sterling leadership as Okwubi, in 1954 the Idoma NA made it possible for Ajene Okpabi to attend administrative courses and then appointed him to their Executive Council where at different times; he served as Councillor in charge of Judiciary, Prisons, Finance and Police. And in 1956, Ajene Okpabi’s political profile was further elevated when he was elected into the first Northern Nigeria House of Assembly which was Set-up to prepare Northern Nigeria politically for the impending independence of Nigeria from Britain.
In 1960, Ajene Okpabi’s life was to change forever. Following the death of his father in-law, the Och’Idoma I, HRH Ogiri Oko , 22 district heads within Idoma NA met and chose Ajene Okpabi as Och’Idoma II and was officially given his staff of office by Queen Elizabeth Il.
His selection as Och’ldoma was met with objections from some quarters and these objections were based on the belief that the Igedes are not Idomas and as such someone considered a “stranger” should not ascend the throne of Och’Idoma.
Despite the early challenges, the leader in Ajene Okpabi saw him overcome them and he would go on to reign for 35 years, making him the longest serving monarch on that thrown so far. During this time, he was awarded two national honours: the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) and Commander of Order of Niger (CON).
His mediatory qualities was called upon during the Nigerian Civil War in the late 1960s when he was made a member of the Consultative Assembly of Leaders of Thought, a group that worked towards resolving the crisis between Nigeria and Biafra.
In 1970, the office of the Och’ldoma was upgraded to a first class chief by the then Benue Plateau State Government. This upgrade was seen by most observers as a clear indication of the prestige brought to the Och’Idoma position by Ajene Okpabi.
In 1994, just as in the 1960s, Ajene Okpabi was one of the 13 eminent people from Benue State selected to be members of the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) which was constituted by then military government to help resolve the political impasse created by the annulment of the June 12 1993 presidential election. While at the NCC, he continued to champion the cause of Idoma people by leading the agitation for the creation of Apa State.
Ajene Okpabi throughout his reign was a father figure to all Idoma people, providing much needed guidance in matters of Idoma tradition and always remained neutral in the different disputes in Idomaland.
HRH, Ogiri Oko (Pioneer Och’Idoma, 1947 – 1960)
HRH, OGIRI Oko, the Och’Idoma I was born in 1903 and he was the third son of his father, Oko Ode of Ai’Ode clan of Adoka and only son of his mother, Alonyenu (Anyenu) of Ai’Ochanya clan of Iga Okpaya.
Haven spent his early childhood with his maternal family in Epe, assisting on the farm.Ogiri returned to Adoka at the instance of his parents following an outbreak of smallpox which he contracted but survived,he returned to be a hard-working young man in his early twenties who had fluent command of Idoma, Igala, Hausa and Epe languages returned to his parents in Adoka.
Ogiri was later to become the Alegwu of Adoka and that was because Oko, the father, who was the Alapa and next in line to become Alegwu, stood aside for his son to become the Alapa after due consultations with Adoka elders and when the reigning Alegwu died, Ogiri became the Alegwu of Adoka. By this time, he already had four wives.
Upon creation of the ldoma Native Authority by the Northern Nigeria Colonial Administration, the need arose for a single chief for idoma people who hitherto had no clear distinct leader and were politically organised under district clan heads. This development led to the election of Ogiri as Och’ldoma by the twenty two district clan heads in Idoma Land in 1947. After his election as the first unitary ruler of Idoma land, Ogiri encountered opposition to his leadership and the strongest opposition was from a new movement of newly western educated Idoma youths called Idoma Hope Rising Union. These youths were against his rule mainly because Ogiri had no formai education and they obviously did not take into account his multi-lingua capabilities especially his fluent command of Hausa which was the lingua franca of Northern Nigeria at the time.
What Ogiri Oko lacked in western education, was more than amply compensated for in foresightedness, a strong will and presence of mind and body. As head of the Idoma Native Authority, Ogiri, in post-World War Il period went on to implement programmes and reforms that made the Idoma people and Idomaland the centre of development within the lower Northern Nigeria. He created the modern day identity of the Idoma people in areas of town planning. He expanded Otukpo, the main town of the Idoma people by dividing Otukpo town into distinct neighbourhoods, with broad streets that have not been improved upon since the 1950s.
He increased the exposure of Idoma people to western education by soliciting the inland movement of missionaries from the East.
Before secondary schools were established in Idoma Land, brilliant Idoma sons were sent to secondary schools in Uzuakoli, in the Eastern region and Katsina College in the Northern region.
Aside from education and town planning, Ogiri Oko was instrumental to the building of hospitals, tarred roads, telecommunication connectivity and centralised water supply system in Otukpo. During his reign, he also enacted policies to encourage increase in commerce, by creating district markets, and legislating against farmers carrying their goods for more than ten miles to markets that are visited by commodity traders from the Eastern part of the country.
Ogiri Oko in his capacity as Och’idoma, was a member of the Northern House of Chiefs until his death in 1960.

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