Indigenous administrative structure and institutions
Benue traditional rulers role as custodians of culture are agents of development, contributing in enhancing peace and order at the grassroots level contributing greatly to the affairs of the state.
Among such rulers are:
Tor Tiv who is paramount ruler of the 14 Tiv speaking Local Government Areas; the Ochi Idoma, the head of Idoma kingdom. The two traditional rulers are referred to as First Class chiefs.
Benue State Government established a Three-tier Traditional Council System that is made up of:
1. Local Government Area Traditional Councils
The Local Government (Area) Traditional Council: is made up of District Heads in a Local Government Area and is headed by a chairman who is a second class chief.
2. Area Traditional Councils
Area Traditional Councils are the Two Area Councils namely:
The Tiv Traditional Council:
This is the former which is made up of all Traditional Rulers from the entire fourteen Tiv speaking Local Government Areas in Benue State with the Tor Tiv as the Chairman.
The Tiv Traditional council is headed by a first class chief, the Tor Tiv, who is advised by a Council of elders known as Jirtamen.
Under the Tor Tiv are the second class chiefs called “Ter” whose domain is the Local Government Area.
The Tiv speaking area second class chiefs include:
- Ter Buruku
- Ter Gboko
- Ter Makurdi
- Ter Kwande
- Ter Kyor
- Ter Ushongo
- Ter Katsina-Ala
- Ter Ukum
- Ter Nagi
- Ter Gwer, and
- Ter Guma
The third class chiefs, called Tyoor, take charge of the districts.
Below these are the kindred heads called Ortaregh who are in charge of kindreds.
Last along the line are the Tax Collectors known as Torkpande.
The Idoma Traditional Council
Is the latter which is made up of the Nine Idoma speaking Local Government Areas in Benue State.
The head of the Idoma kingdom is called Och’ Idoma as chairman and there are 22 districts and 144 clans in Idoma land.
The clans and districts are administered by clan heads and district heads, who are directly under the supervision and control of Och’ Idoma, the paramount ruler. He is the spiritual head and custodian of Idoma cultural heritage.
Unlike in some parts of the country, where ascendancy to the throne is strictly limited to members of select royal families, in Idoma, any male Idoma holding a first degree is qualified to be an Ochi’ Idoma as long as he is of a sound mind without any disability. The kingship is rotated among the people of the districts and clans when the throne is vacant.
The Idoma speaking area second class chiefs include:
- Ade’None of Otukpo
- Omo’no of Owukpa
- Obande of Ugbo’ju
- Alegwu of Otukpo
- Oche’Iga of Agatu/Apa
- Ede of Edumoga
- Ulonga Ufia of Utonkon among others
They are generally called ‘Oches’ in Idoma land.
Igede Traditional Council
Igede is the third largest ethnic group in Benue with Idoma been the second largest. In spite of their traditional and cultural differences, the relationship between Igede and Idoma is so glued together that they have one first class traditional ruler. That is the Ochi Idoma.
The Ochi Idoma reigns over all the Idomas and Igede as well. HRH Late Abraham Ajene Okpabi who was the second Ochi Idoma to ascend to the throne was of Igede descent. He ruled from 1960 to 1995.
In analysing the subject matter of traditional council in Igede land, both Oju and Obi Local Government Areas must be brought into the picture as Igede land encompasses the both of them. The traditional council in Igede as obtained in the previous set up prior to the present day is such that there are chiefs that represent each of the clans, there are also chiefs that represent each of the districts in Igede and then there is the overall chief called the ‘Adutu of Igede’ who was known as the number one person.
He was addressed as HRH the Adutu of Igede.
The current situation however is different owing to certain controversies that ensued upon the demise of the last Adutu of Igede (HRH Late chief Ikande Idikwu of blessed memory). As practiced currently, the Igede people have two separate co-equaled traditional heads in Igede land addressed as:
- Ada’Oju in Oju Local Government Area
- Ada’Ito (Ada’Obi) in Obi Local Government Area, with
- The Adutu stool now in abeyance.
Next to the Ada’Oju as in the case of Oju Local Government Area under normal circumstances are the district chiefs, then there are clan (Beaded) chiefs and then followed by the ward heads. In some clans, the clan head and the ward head are vested in one man. In some others, the offices are separated and vested in two different persons.
The current paramount ruler of Oju Local Government Area is HRH Chief Dr. Augustine Egbere Ogbu, Ada’Oju.
3. The State Council of Chiefs
The State Council of Chiefs has the Tor Tiv, His Royal Majesty , Orchivirigh Professor James Ortese Ayatse as Chairman, with Och’Idoma, all Second Class Chiefs, and Chairmen of all Benue Local Government Areas as members.