04 Jan Nigeria: “Idoma Area Traditional Council Implements Progressive Reforms, Unifies Bride Price, and Modernizes Cultural Practices”
By Ahmad Hadizat Omayoza, Mamos Nigeria
In a landmark decision, the Idoma Area Traditional Council (IATC) of Benue state, under the leadership of Och’Idoma, His Majesty Eliagwu Odogbo, has implemented significant changes to cultural practices within Idoma land. The council, following extensive consultations with rulers, political leaders, and the community, has unanimously decided to reform certain long-standing cultural norms that were deemed archaic and harsh.
Among the sweeping changes is the unification and fixed pricing of the Traditional Bride Price in Idoma land, now set at a maximum of N50,000. Furthermore, the council has abolished stringent conditions, stipulations, and expectations associated with traditional marriage, fostering a more inclusive and accessible approach to marital ceremonies.
In a move towards a more compassionate approach to mourning, the council has prohibited the imposition of costly prescriptions, stipulations, and requirements on bereaved families for burial rites. The emphasis is on conducting burial rites within the means of the family and completing them within two to three weeks from the date of death.
Additionally, the council has put an end to the practice where relatives deny the children and widows of the deceased their rightful inheritance. In the absence of a written will, surviving wives and children shall now have the primary right to the deceased’s property.
The council has also addressed the sensitive matter of burying deceased wives. While the general rule is for a deceased wife to be buried in her husband’s place, exceptions may be made for special circumstances, such as when the wife had children with more than one man. In such cases, the wife may be buried in her father’s place to allow multiple husbands and children to participate in the burial rites.
In an effort to regulate burials and maintain community aesthetics, the indiscriminate burial of corpses within and around communities, especially in residential areas, has been prohibited. Villages and hamlets are required to designate a burial ground by December 31, 2024. Special permissions must be obtained from the Traditional Ruler for burials within compounds, ensuring proper marking and security of the burial spots.
These groundbreaking changes, announced at the end of the council’s meeting in Otukpo, reflect a commitment to evolving cultural practices in alignment with contemporary values and a more compassionate approach to traditions within the Idoma-speaking tribe of Benue state.