In a landmark decision, the Idoma Area Traditional Council of Benue State, under the leadership of the paramount ruler, Och’Idoma, His Majesty Eliagwu Odogbo, has enacted far-reaching reforms, aiming to eradicate what it deems as self-imposed, barbaric, and harsh cultural practices within the Idoma land.
The council’s resolutions, declared at the conclusion of its meeting in Otukpo, the traditional headquarters of the Idoma-speaking tribe, include a cap on traditional marriage rites at a maximum of N50,000. The council emphasized the elimination of stringent conditions and expectations associated with traditional marriages.
Furthermore, the council addressed burial practices, prohibiting expensive prescriptions and stipulations for burial rites. Burial ceremonies are expected to be conducted within the affordable means of the family and concluded within two to three weeks from the date of death.
In a bid to safeguard inheritance rights, the council prohibited the denial and deprivation of children and wives of the deceased. The right of first consideration in the apportioning of inheritance is granted to the deceased’s surviving wife(s) and children in the absence of a written will.
The practice of returning the corpse of an Idoma daughter from her husband’s home to her paternal home for burial has been limited to cases of multiple marriages. Additionally, the council mandated that a deceased’s wife shall be buried in her husband’s place, with exceptions only in special circumstances.
Addressing community burial practices, the council prohibited the indiscriminate burial of corpses within and around residential areas. Villages and hamlets are required to designate burial grounds by December 31, 2024. Any exceptions for burial within or around a compound must obtain the permit of the traditional ruler.
These sweeping changes aim to modernize cultural practices, ensuring they align with contemporary values while preserving the essence of Idoma tradition.
The Idoma Area Traditional Council encourages the adherence of all true Idoma people to these reforms for a more progressive and inclusive community.