Why The Tiv People of Nasarawa and Taraba States Are Not Settlers

Education, Stories 9/04/2013 by Mr. John Akevi

Indigeneity is simply a discriminatory concept employed in the Nigerian state to distinguish between the indigenes or natives of a state or locality and those who are referred to as non-indigenes or settlers. Despite the constitutional provisions guaranteeing the citizenship status of Nigerians, yet within the country, the issues of indigeneity is making Nigerians to becoming second-class citizens in states other than their own.

The Tiv people like the Hausa/Fulani who considered themselves indigenous in virtually all states in northern Nigeria, are indigenous to many more states than Benue State. A larger population of Tiv people is found in Taraba, Nasarawa part of Plateau and Niger States, while some are in Abuja (FCT), Cross River and the Republic of Cameroun.

Tiv people like other ethnic nationalities such as Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo inhabit several states comfortably. It is only the Tiv, arguably the 4th largest ethnic group in Nigeria, who must be confined to Benue State, they are designated “settlers, non-indigene or immigrants”. This write up is to seek for clarification on the “settlers vs. indigene syndrome” in Taraba and Nasarawa States.

The Tiv People in Taraba State

Historically, the Tiv people in Taraba State particularly the Ukum, Shitile and Ugondo clans arrived the present area of Taraba State at the same time with the Chamba tribes between 1750 and 1800AD. According to Dr. Hassan Mahmoud in his Ph. D. Thesis on the Rise and Fall of Emirate of Muri 1812 – 1903. Historical records by Professor Webster (1775) and Dr. Erim (1981) indicated that with the fall of Kwororofa Empire, the Jukum marched against Bornu’s capital Gazargamo in 1684, they were roundly defeated by the Bornu Empire (See R. C. Abraham’s page 33, and the Bornu Chronicles p.35).

The remnants at Kororofa in preset day Gombe State, were again routed by Buba Yero of Gombe and around 1860, “the Jakun mated away before Buba Yero of Gombe and Abubakar, Alkalin Dagara, and Buba of Bakundi finally destroyed what was left of Kororofa” (see R. C. Abrahams p.34).

Even before the final destruction, the Jukuns had fled westwards to meet the Tiv who had already occupied the Benue valley at Kassan Chikki in present day Awe in Nasarawa State.

The present Jakun settlement at prestn Wukari, Taraba State was already occupied by the Tiv which they called Waka District.

The arrival of British between 1800 and 1900AD commence a period of systematic recording of the historical account of the relationship between the ethnic groups. It is an established facts that prior to the arrival of the British, the Tiv has co-existed with their neighbours the Jukun, the Kuteb, Chamba, Alago and other smaller nationalities.

Available records indicate that at the time of Amalgamation of Nigeria in 1944. The Tiv resisted the penetration of the white man into Tiv land. Indeed effective penetration of Tiv land by the British was not accomplished until about 1915.

Following the creation of the northern protectorates, the Tiv were part of the then Lower Benue Province. In 1905, Tiv were under the administrative sphere of Muri province. In 1918, all ethnic minorities south of Benue River, including Bassa, Idoma, Igala, Igede, Tiv, Jukun, Kuteb Chamba and others. Smaller ethnic minorities were group to form Munchi province.

Munchi is a term widely recognized as a nickname for the Tiv a term not acceptable by the Tiv people. This Munchi province covered all the areas now under Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and part of Kogi State.

In 1926, Mr. Palmer the then governor of Northern Nigeria placed together all so called Pagan ethnic groups of the western and Muri province to form Kabba province. The remaining part of Munchi province was called Benue province. It covered the present day Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba States.

Under this arrangement, Katsina-Ala District was merged with Ibi District to form Wukari Division under the traditional authority of the Aku Uka of Wukari. It is common knowledge that Tiv had no Central Chief until 1946.

All Tiv lands west of Katsina Ala were placed under southern protectorates and administered from Ogoja and Obudu in present day Cross River State. The rest of Tiv lands were administered from Lafia in present day Nasarawa State.

When Tiv division was created in 1938, the Tiv in Katsina-Ala District were placed under Tiv native authority in Gboko, segments of Tiv clans namely; Gaambe Tiev, Ukum and Shitile who were in Wukari division were left under the authority of the Aku Uka of Wukari.

It can be seen that when Tiv were part of Northern protectorate, Muri province, Munchi province, Benue province and even in Benue Plateau State, there was no talk of “settlers, non-indigene or immigrants.”

The boundary separating Tiv Native Authority Division and Wukari which became known as Wukari Federation was made fragment through homogenous Tiv Villages such as (Gbeji, Vaase, Abako, Sail, Peva/Chanchanji and Kashimbila. Some districts/clans were arbitrarily/ fragmented by conflicting delimitation documents. The boundary divided these villages in such away that members of the same family were divided with some in Tiv division and others Wukari Federation.

The Tiv Population in Defunct Wukari Federation which comprises of Wukari District, Takum District and Donga District.

The 1947 census put the Tiv population as 34% of Wukari federation, while the Jukun were listed among the others who were 64%.

It was noted that the Tiv officially outnumbered the Jukun as shown in the table below – hence, the Tiv are the single largest ethnic group in Wukari, Taraba State:

Source: National Archives Kaduna (NAK/MAK/Prof. 4377)

Wukari Factsheets No.253 (S.E, N.E, and N.W) 1923 provide sufficient topographical evidence that, the Tiv people dominated the areas surrounding Wukari town.

The detail photographs of the Tiv villages includes; Tor-Damsa, Tse-Afogba Tse-Kpandi (all of them Ugondo) in present Donga Local Government Area. Tse Agbanyam, Tse Ashiekaa, Tse Nyam Tse Agbe (Shitile) Tse Daar, Ikernum, Zegeate, Kyambe, Torluam, Aondogbila, Harabiem, Tse kanyoom, Jigba, Deke and China (Ukum).


In Taraba State the political equations of the Tiv people in the defunct Wukari Federation which comprises the present, Wukari, Takum, Donga and Ussa have been a constant source of worry to the various ethnic groups in the area.

The following Tiv people were either elected or appointed to political positions:

A Tive Charles Tangu Gaza, contested under the United Middle Belt Congress (UMBC) for the 1959 Federal House of Representatives against a Jukun candidate Ibrahim Sangari, of the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) Gaza defeated Sangari with a wide margin.  During the second republic, Hon. Simon I. Awuah and Hon. David K. Mtuam were elected in the defunct Gongola State House of Assembly in 1979-1983. Mr. Simon I. Musa was elected the First Chairman of Wukari Local Government in 1979-1983. Hon. Hitler Gbaondo represented Takum Federal Constituency in the House Representative in 1979-1983. Hon. Tsetim Gwakyaa represented Donga Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives in 1983.

Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, the former Governor of Defunct Gongola State Appointed Dr. Samuel Tor-Agbidye, Commissioner for Health in 1983, he also appointed Mr. Emmanuel Yawe as Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, in 1983 and Group Captain Jona David Jang also appoint Mr. Emmanuel Jawe again as his Chief Press Secretary in 1987.

Governor Jolly Nyame appointed Mr. Ubee Uchive as Adviser in 1994 and 2000.

The Current Governor of Taraba State Mr. James Danbaba Suntai appointed Mr. Daniel Orkuma Nav Permanent Secretary, Government House, Mrs. Rebecca Torpeva as Adviser to the Governor on political affairs, Dr. Tor-Agbidye was also appointed adviser to the Governor while Mr. Emmanuel Orabunde was appointed the INEC Commissioner.

The Tiv People in Nasarawa State

In Nasarawa State South Senatorial District the settlement pattern then showed the existence of Isherev, Utyondu and Nongov clans of Tiv extraction, who lived with their kith and kins peacefully, co-existed with other tribes such as Alago, Koro, Abakpa, Gwandara and Kamberi were Tiv neighbours in Nasarawa State without rancor since the 17th century.

The Tiv settlement in what is today Nasarawa State predated the Colonial era and is similar to the Tiv in Taraba State from the Munchi province up to the Benue Plateau State.

The Tiv Population in Defunct Benue Plateau

The population of Lafia Division in the defunct Benue/Plateau State, which comprised the present Nasarawa South Senatorial District are made up of Awe, Doma, Keana and Lafia Local Government Areas.

By the 1963 Census, the total population of the Lafia Division was 424,219. The Tiv people accounted for 289,559 representing about 49.2 percent of the total population thereof. The 1991 population census did not reflect ethnic grouping, but going by the indices of the population growth and projection, one has a clear view of the population of the Tiv in Nasarawa South Senatorial District.


In Nasarawa State, successive democratic administration had fund it complete impossible to ignore the plight of the Tiv people in view of their populations during the second republic therefore, Tiv people did not only have effective representation at Local Government Councils in the areas, but there were also represented at National Assembly by one Hon. Athanasius Tyo was elected to represent Awe, Keana and Doma Federal Constituency from 1979 – 1983, while in 1983 Mr. Emmanuel Orshio represented the people of Awe, Keana and Doma Federal Constituency.

In 1999 Tiv people won election to various Local Government Councils as well as the State Assembly. During the Government of Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu, he appointed Tiv Sons of Nasarawa State into key positions of the State Public Service i.e. 1 Special Adviser, 1 Permanent Secretary, 1 Secretary, Teachers Service Commission (TSC), 1 Chairman of Board, 1 Commissioner of the State Electoral Commission (NASIEC), among others, while the current administration of Alhaji Tanko Almakura appointed Mr. Solomon Ihuman as Commissioner for Culture and Tourism and Mr. Philip Audu as Permanent Secretary, Water Resources.

The position of the Tiv in Nasarawa, like Taraba State is very clear; they have lived in these ancestral lands as far back as the 16th century. The Tiv are mostly Christians who are proud of their own religion and culture. However, they respected the religions and cultures of other people.

The phenomenon of “settlers, non-indigene or immigrant” is no more than an attempt by ruling elite in affected areas to deny the Tiv people access to socio-economic and political opportunities including the right to vote and be voted for.

Primary Reference Sources:

  1. Abraham, R. C. (Capt.) Tiv People, Muri Province (Anthropological Office, Northern Nigeria) National Archives Kaduna.
  2. National Archives SNP 17/18 K4049 (B) Benue Province, Wukari Division.
  3. Makar T. The History of Political Change among the Tiv in the 19th and 20th Century (Fourth Dimension Press) 1994.
  4. Tseayo, J. I. Conflict and Incorporation in Nigeria (Gaskiya Corporation Zaria 1975).
  5. David, T. (eds) Political Aspects of Tiv Social Organization in Tribe Wukari Rules, (London 1958).

5 thoughts on “Why The Tiv People of Nasarawa and Taraba States Are Not Settlers

  1. Yaweh Shadrach Ternenge

    Why tiv towns names are changing in taraba state

  2. Akosu I. Desmond

    sir, given all these facts, i think the tivs in nasarawa and taraba especialy need to be merge into one state to avoid conflict

  3. Levi Mase

    I do appreciate your accurate account on the matter. The problem is that history is no longer taught in schools that our younger generation should know.

  4. Orkuma Aondoaver

    They what now they are saying that tiv people are not the citizenship of taraba State now
    And people content for house of representative

  5. Orgem Jeffrey Aôndover



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