Jukun, other non-Tiv nationalities kick against decisions of Tiv Supreme Council
Front view of the neglected Aku Bise Palace in Abinsi
Some minority ethnic groups in Tivland of Benue State are in the process of rising against some of the decisions of the highest Tiv assembly known as Ijirtamen.
Usually in attendance at the Ijirtamen are traditional rulers of the Tiv Area Traditional Council, Chairmen of the Local Government Councils, chieftaincy holders, the Executive Committee of Mzough u Tiv and the general interested public. The meeting is under the chairmanship of the Tor Tiv.
Electricity project done during Late Governor Aper Aku regime
The assembly at its meeting on August 17, 2018 took some decisions and suggestions that are not in tandem with other non-Tiv speaking groups in Tivland.
Apex News gathered that some of the non-Tiv ethnic nationalities not comfortable with some of the outcomes are Jukuns of Abinsi, Gbajimba and others kindreds in Guma Local Government Area and those in Wailomayo (Ajogo) and other parts of Makurdi of Makurdi Local Government Area.
Back view of the collapsed palace in Abinsi
Also, the Etulos of Adi and its environs in Katsina-Ala Local Government Area are kicking against the decisions.
It was learnt that these groups are putting heads together to complain to the state government on the matter noting that though their settlements are in Tivland, they are culturally different and have been earlier settlers in the area.
They particularly raised eyes brows on item 19, section vii, which states that all towns, villages or wards in Tivland should be renamed to bear Tiv names.
The sections noted that “All Towns, Villages or Wards in Tivland that culturally do not have Tiv meanings such as Katsina-Ala, Wailomayo, Wadata, Yelewatta, Abinsi, etc should have their names changed to what would give meaning to their names. The Tor Tiv should set up a Committee to examine the issue in detail and to identify such towns, villages or wards in Tivland and make appropriate suggestions.”
Clinic inherited from the colonialists
Another section in contention is item 13 which dwell on teaching of Tiv language in schools at all levels.
Apart from these, a Jukun elder told Apex News recently that Abinsi has been neglected by the Benue State Government over the years without any government presence in terms of health facilities, school or social amenities because of ethnic differences.
Below are the details of the outcome of the Ijirtamen:
TIV AREA TRADITIONAL COUNCIL, GBOKO
DECISIONS OF THE SUPREME COUNCIL OF THE TIV NATION (IJIRTAMEN) HELD ON FRIDAY 17TH AUGUST 2018 AT THE TIV AREA TRADITIONAL COUNCIL CHAMBERS GBOKO
The Ijirtamen was held at the Tiv Area Traditional Council Chambers on 17th August 2018 and was attended by traditional rulers of the Tiv Area Traditional Council, Chairmen of the Local Government Councils, chieftaincy holders, the Executive Committee of Mzough u Tiv and the general interested public. The meeting was chaired by the Tor Tiv, His Royal Majesty, Orcivirigh Professor James Ortese Iorzua Ayatse.
The Ijirtamen received short exhortation, general announcements, Tor Tiv’s address, Benue State Executive Governor’s address, report on the selection of new traditional rulers, report of vacant positions of traditional rulers, report of the Committee on the Reform of Tiv Culture and Tradition, among other things.
- GOVERNOR’S ADDRESS:
The Governor’s address touched on challenges of salary payment, herdsmen attacks, the Open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment law and its implementation, persecutions arising from the implementation of the law and political crisis. The Ijirtamen deliberated on the address and resolved
- to fully back and support wholeheartedly the implementation of the law and unanimously voted against any suspension or repeal of the law.
- that the Tiv nation is completely against political violence and decided that Tiv sons and daughters were free to belong to different political parties but must endeavour to work together in peace and love and be each other’s keeper.
- NEW TRADITIONAL RULERS
In all, 172 new traditional rulers were presented, made up of five (5) Uters, forty-one (41) District heads and one hundred and twenty-six (126) Kindred heads. The Ijirtamen resolved to admit all the new traditional rulers into the fold of the Tiv Area Traditional Council for them to formally carry out their functions in their different domain and in the Council.
- VACANT POSITION OF TRADITIONAL RULERS
The Ijirtamen received report on the existence of a total of sixty-nine (69) vacant positions consisting of two (2) Mueters, nine (9) District heads and fifty-eight (58) Kindred heads. Ijirtamen decided that the positions should be filled as soon as possible.
- AYATUTU KA SE FOUNDATION
The Ijirtamen received a report on the establishment of Ayatutu Ka Se Foundation as a development platform and purse of the Tiv nation with a Board of Trustee made up of all the first-class traditional rulers and Tor Tiv as Chairman and a Board of Advisers made up of 60 members selected from across all the Intermediate areas and the diaspora. The Ijirtamen applauded the establishment of the Foundation and resolved to fully support it to succeed for the good of the Tiv nation.
The Ijirtamen considered the report of the Committee on the Reform of Tiv Culture and Tradition and decided on the different components of the report as follows:
- TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE COST AND CEREMONY
i). During courtship the would-be couple should not co-habit until the marriage is formally contracted.
- ii) The introduction of the intending groom to the parents of a girl to be permitted to start courtship (u pinen ian i sôôr kwase) shall be by the groom’s parents, guardian or their representative with the girl in attendance but not by the girl herself.
iii) Where the family of the would-be groom is desirous of marrying a girl, it is their duty to approach and transact business with the family of the girl in the presence of or through an intermediary (Ishuur), to ask for her hand in marriage from her parents.
- iv) Love should be the primary issue between the families concerned in marriage discussion and transaction but not money. Therefore, total expenses on marriage including dowry or bride price (kem kwase) and all sundry issues (Azaan a kwase) which at the moment vary from one community or family to another should not exceed One hundred Thousand Naira (N100,000.00) in Tivland.
- v) Traditional marriage ceremony where bride price is to be paid shall involve only the Elders of the two families concerned. The practice of inviting and bringing large numbers of friends and well-wishers to the occasion is alien to Tiv tradition and is hereby abolished.
- vi) The practice of holding festivities in the house of the girl’s parents popularly known as Traditional Marriage involving cutting of cake, dances, parties should be discontinued as it is alien to the Tiv way of life. Celebration of a new wife is done by the Tiv People only in the husband’s house.
vii) Tiv culture places emphasis on parental consent and blessing before marriage. Elopement is a violation of this but when it occurs there are traditional steps accepted to get parental consent. The groom’s family should, immediately report the elopement to the family of the bride within two (2) days.
viii) At the first visit of the bride’s family there should be payment to them of:
- a) Ihira tsuwan not more than two thousand Naira (2,000.00);
- b) Entertainment including ikyegh i wonov (a cock), drinks and a sum of money commensurate to any lost items alleged to have been in the bride’s care; and
- c) A reasonable amount of money for transport.
- ix) Tiv girls to be given out in marriage must attain the age of Eighteen (18) years and above.
- x) Violation of this marriage tradition shall attract boycott by traditional rulers and elders and the denial of traditional marriage registration, including other traditional sanctions as the community may deem appropriate.
- CUSTOM OF TRADITIONAL BURIAL; COST AND CEREMONY
- i) Deaths should be stripped of all celebration.
- ii) The idea of taxing or levying daughters (instead of voluntary contribution) to foot the bills associated with burials should be stopped. Burial expenses should be borne by the male gender in the family and well-wishers on voluntary basis.
iii) Any Tiv person who dies must be buried within two (2) weeks or 14 days.
- iv) Graves for burial of all Tiv persons must be simple and not elaborate.
- v) Coffins or Caskets for burial of all average Tiv persons must be the cut and nail type or at most batik material used to cover it.
- vi) Designated cemeteries rather than scattered graves within the compound should be encouraged in Tivland.
vii) Burial ceremonies must be made solemn occasions and attended by only those who feel genuinely concerned over the loss of the deceased person. There should therefore be no generalized or open invitations as it is done these days especially on the radio (Hanma or u nan ungwa ku yôôn ne yô, ikaa a kaa nan je, nana karen a kar).
viii) Ceremonies of remembrance or anniversary of the death of a family member is alien to Tiv culture and is abolished.
- ix) Where there is a violation of these norms there should be boycott of the burial by the traditional rulers, elders and the community in addition to other sanctions as the elders may deem appropriate.
- SETTLEMENT PATTERN (SÔRTEMA)
- i) Clustered settlements (sôrtema) should be adopted in Tivland. This would ensure the unity of the family members, the moral discipline of their youth and their security as they would no longer be prone to attack by invaders.
- ii) Clustered settlements would make more land available for farming purposes and boost the economy of the people.
iii) Clustered settlements would also allow for the siting of some basic social amenities such as schools, health centres, electricity, etc.
- iv) New settlements or compounds should be regulated by traditional authorities.
- SALE OF ANCESTRAL LAND
- i) Arbitrary sale of ancestral lands should be stopped in Tivland. Where land is to be sold it must be for the developmental needs of the community such as building of schools, hospitals, industries etc and must be done with the knowledge and approval of the elders of the community or family concerned and Traditional rulers.
- ii) The approval of a certificate of occupancy over land other than an urban area must be done after due consultation with the Traditional rulers and the Elders or “ityo” who are the traditional custodians of the land.
iii) The sale of ancestral land to an indigene shall not be valid unless the owner of the land obtains the approval of the head of the family, the Kindred and District head and the Mueter in charge of the domain in which the land is located.
- iv) The sale of ancestral land to a non-indigene shall not be valid unless the owner of the land obtains the approval of the head of the family, the Kindred and District head, the Mueter, the Ter and Tor in charge of the domain in which the land is located.
- AWARD OF CHIEFTAINCY TITLES, USE OF CHIEFTAINCY BEADS AND REGALIA
- i) To check the abuse, commercialisation and politicisation of the award of Chieftaincy Titles to deserving Tiv sons and daughters as well as non Tiv sons and daughters, until further notice, only the Tor Tiv shall award chieftaincy titles on deserving persons after screening by the Chieftaincy and Honours Committee.
- ii) Prospective awardees must have tangible evidence of contribution to the development of any part of the Tiv society or the protection and advancement of Tiv interest.
- iv) All Chieftaincy Title recipients shall maintain the Two (2) sets of black and white colour beads currently worn by Honorific Chieftaincy Title holders in Tivland on their necks and wrists.
- v) A Chieftaincy and Honours Committee shall be set up by Tor Tiv to receive and screen nominees/prospective awardees and make recommendations for his approval.
- vi) The black and white coloured beads worn by traditional rulers with the similitude of bambara nuts should be maintained in the number according to the status or category of Chiefs in Tivland. Wives of Traditional rulers and Chieftaincy Title-holders should also wear the beads on their wrists according to the number entitled to be worn by their husbands. Only one wife should be so designated and recognized for the Traditional rulers and Title-holders that have many wives.
vii) Traditional leaders of Tiv stock in the diaspora shall be entitled to wear beads made up of black and white seeds.
viii) the use of black and white traditional beads by unauthorised persons is banned and offenders shall be reported to the law enforcement agencies for appropriate action.
- TRADITIONAL AGE-GRADE SYSTEM, TRADITIONAL DANCES AND FOLKLORE*
- i) Age-grade System should be revived in Tivland with a bracket interval of two years.
- ii) It should be organized at the level of Kindred and District Areas.
iii) Traditional dances and folklore should also be revived and organized at various levels in Tivland.
- INSTITUTION OF FARM PRODUCE FESTIVITIES
- i) Farm produce festivities should be institutionalized in Tivland for major food crops such as yams which should be celebrated on the second Saturday of January every year.
- ii) The celebration of the farm produce should start at the Kindred, District up to the Local Government levels simultaneously in Tivland.
iii) There shall be a central festival of celebrating Tiv nation farm produce in Gboko as shall be determined by the Tiv Area Traditional Council.
- TEACHING AND SPEAKING OF TIV LANGUAGE AT HOME AND SCHOOLS
- i) A curriculum for the teaching of Tiv language in Schools within Benue State should be developed by the State Government to cover up to University level.
- ii) The training of Teachers that will teach Tiv language in Schools should be encouraged and intensified.
iii) Parents should speak to their children or wards at home in Tiv language and patiently correct them whenever they pronounce Tiv words wrongly. Tiv songs should also be taught along with traditional dances.
- iv) Tiv language should be made a medium of communication in all gatherings that are essentially Tiv.
- v) Tiv children born outside the Tiv speaking areas should occasionally be made to visit home to live and interact with those who commonly speak Tiv language.
- vi) Authors of books written in Tiv language should be given encouragement in whatever form.
vii) Teaching of Tiv language should be encouraged by making it compulsory in Nursery/Primary up to Junior Secondary or Universal Basic Education (UBE) level in all Schools within the Tiv speaking area of Benue State.
viii) Tiv people with expertise should be encouraged to develop computer applications and aids for teaching and learning Tiv language.
- PARTNERING WITH RELIGIOUS ORGANISATIONS AND OTHER STAKEHOLDERS ON CULTURAL REFORMS AND PRACTICES
- i) Regular dialogue between the Tiv Area Traditional Council (TATC) and religious organizations and relevant stakeholders and institutions should be encouraged to enhance peace and harmony, awaken the consciousness and strengthen the partnership among them and TATC in the areas of language teaching and learning, and in the reform of cultural practices and traditions.
- ii) There should be acceptance and integration of religious practices that are in agreement with Tiv culture and tradition.
iii) Tor Tiv should set up a joint Traditional and Christian Leaders Forum to serve as a platform for ensuring mutual understanding, cooperation and peace building in Tiv nation.
- INHERITANCE PATTERN AND FATE OF THE WIDOW/WIDOWER AND CHILDREN
- i) A married woman is not only joined to the husband but to the entire family of the husband. Upon marriage, a woman becomes a bona fide member and heir of the family of her husband and answers the family’s name. It is fate that brings about the death of her husband and she should remain the true heir of the husband’s property, along with her children. If the woman is still young and wishes to remarry, she shall be joined to the new family and her children remain heirs in their father’s family.
- ii) It is not the culture of Tiv to drive away the widow(s) of a deceased relation or confiscate the property of the deceased and share among themselves. Every member of a family should endeavour to develop on their own and not to wait for a kinsman to die before making themselves rich through inheritance of his property.
iii) Brothers should offer all the necessary assistance to widows, pay their children’s school fees and ensure their good upbringing in line with being our brother’s keepers that the Tiv people practiced.
- iv) Widowers must ensure that they take good care of the children of their deceased wives and impress on the new woman coming into the family to take the deceased woman’s children as her own.
- v) Widows should be protected by wills and surviving elders of a deceased family member. They should inherit their family deceased husbands’ assets equitably.
- vi) When contemplating remarriage, it is better for a widower to marry a widow both having gone through the pains of losing a loved one. They would rather be a perfect match than the other way around.
vii) The idea of writing a WILL to indicate how property should be shared after one’s death should be encouraged and respected among the Tiv people.
- STRATEGIES TO ELIMINATE LAND DISPUTES AND COMMUNAL CLASHES
- i) Traditional rulers and elders must exhibit transparency and fairness in their judgment on land matters;
- ii) Traditional rulers and Elders must be involved in resolving land matters;
iii) All Traditional rulers should have the proceedings of land matters resolved by them;
- iv) Notable land marks should be identified to mark the boundary demarcation where land disputes have been resolved;
- v) Traditional rulers and elders must be carried along in all land transactions requiring issuance of Titles by Government;
- vi) Land matters should be taken to Court only as a last resort;
vii) No transport money or food should be demanded or made a precondition by Traditional rulers or Elders during settlement of land disputes to avoid the temptation of favouring the party that gives higher transport money, goats or food;
viii) Any party in a land dispute that gives bribe in order to be favoured should be deemed guilty and by that fact lose the case.
- STRATEGIES FOR RE-ESTABLISHING RESPECT FOR ELDERS AND THE TRADITIONAL INSTITUTION
- i) The Elders and Traditional rulers must imbibe self-discipline and respect themselves to be accorded the respect that they deserve from the youths and their subjects respectively.
- ii) For the Traditional institution in particular, it is hereby resolved that the Code of Conduct for Traditional rulers enshrined in section 25 (1)(a)-(r) of the Benue State Council of Chiefs and Traditional Councils Law, 2016 hereunder reproduced should be strictly adhered to. Section 25(1) states as follows: “A Chief appointed under this Law shall observe the Code of Conduct prescribed herein;
- a) a traditional ruler shall respect and comply with the Laws of the land i.e. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended or any Law replacing same, Chieftaincy Laws, and shall conduct himself at all times in a manner that can promote public confidence and the integrity and impartiality of the traditional institution;
- b) a traditional ruler shall be apolitical;
- c) a traditional ruler must avoid social relationships that are improper or give rise to an appearance of impropriety, that cast doubts on the traditional ruler’s ability to decide cases impartially, or that bring disrespect to the traditional institution;
- d) a traditional ruler shall not be a member of any secret society, or organization that practices discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion or ethnicity;
- e) a traditional ruler shall as much as possible refrain from exposing himself to such places like brothels, beer parlours, and similar places that will expose him to general public ridicule;
- f) a traditional ruler shall at all times be properly dressed – ie wearing the appropriate attires like the beads, etc, to distinguish him from the other members of the public;
- g) a traditional ruler shall not promote communal clashes nor take side in disputes in his domain;
- h) a traditional ruler shall not be involved with people of questionable characters or integrity like armed robbers, fraudsters, gamblers;
- i) a traditional ruler shall promote, encourage and actively participate in communal development of his area/domain and shall give account of his stewardship to his people periodically;
- j) in the case of the Paramount Rulers or First-Class Chiefs, they shall summon a meeting of their Traditional Councils at least quarterly in a year;
- k) no traditional ruler shall abandon his work or domain without permission from the appropriate authority;
- l) no traditional ruler shall embezzle nor comingle his property with trust property. Such trust property shall be promptly accounted for on demand by the trustee(s);
- m) a traditional ruler shall at all times encourage, promote or participate in the promotion of peace and unity among his subjects and shall not be seen to derogate from same;
- n) all traditional rulers are encouraged to promote inter and intra communal visits on a regular basis so as to promote harmony, understanding, good neighbourliness, conflict resolution all aimed at maintenance of peace, order and development of their domain;
- o) in the exercise of his traditional duties, a traditional ruler shall avoid acts of partiality, nepotism, and favouritism and shall exhibit transparency in all his dealings;
- p) no person shall offer a traditional ruler nor shall any traditional ruler accept any gift or benefit of any kind as an inducement or bribe for the granting of any favour or the discharge in his favour of the traditional ruler’s duties;
- q) a traditional ruler shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his traditional duties
- r) a traditional ruler shall not by virtue of his position entice or forcefully marry or convert another man’s wife as his wife.
- TRADITIONAL SANCTIONS OF ENFORCING COMPLIANCE IN CASES OF VIOLATION OF CULTURAL NORMS
- i) offenders must first be tried by the immediate community and if found guilty be fined, the amount being determined by the gravity of the offence;
- ii) offences against the community be sanctioned by banishment to the offender’s maternal home (Igba) for a specified period of time depending on the gravity of the offence;
iii) In some cases the offenders may not be banished but excluded or ostracised (Nyagh) from participation in the affairs of the community even while living in their midst for a specific period of time or after fulfilment of some conditionalities.
- OTHER MATTERS THAT WILL ENHANCE APPROPRIATE POSITIVE CULTURAL REFORMS, PERCEPTION, ATTITUDE AND ORIENTATION
- i) The Tiv people must at all times be guided in their dealings with others by justification (chia). Any curse (ifan) must be anchored on sound justification.
- ii) The average Tiv man believes in the existence of a supreme God even though he may not have formally received Christ in his life. Much effort should be made to bring the Tiv People to know and love God, and remain close to Him, using the Holy book (The Bible) as a guide;
iii) The beggarly attitude of the Tiv youth these days debases the Tiv nation and should be discouraged. Rather than bend down and work, acquire some formal or informal education to be productive and useful to the society, some able-bodied youths prefer begging in the townships or other places during political events, burials etc. In the event that they are not given anything by their benefactors, they turn abusive;
- iv) The practice of blaming women as being responsible for the death of their husbands or children and Elders as being responsible for the death of the youths and beating them up, sometimes to death, or meting out any other forms of punishment to them should be banned in Tiv society. Even where there appears to be circumstantial evidence in that regard, a report should be made to the Law Enforcement Agencies for appropriate action.
- v) The wearing of black and white coloured cloths (Anger) as Tiv national dress should be encouraged and promoted among the Tiv People at all levels and even beyond the shores of this country.
- vi) There is a serious challenge of substance abuse and criminality in our society. Traditional rulers should cooperate with law enforcement agents to stop the menace.
vii) All Towns, Villages or Wards in Tivland that culturally do not have Tiv meanings such as Katsina-Ala, Wailomayo, Wadata, Yelewatta, Abinsi, etc should have their names changed to what would give meaning to their names. The Tor Tiv should set up a Committee to examine the issue in detail and to identify such towns, villages or wards in Tivland and make appropriate suggestions.