Idoma monarch bans expensive burials, pegs bride price at N50,000

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The Idoma Area Traditional Council of Benue State announced significant changes, declaring an end to lavish burial ceremonies in Idomaland and setting a unified traditional bride price of N50,000 for men marrying within the tribe.

In his New Year message released to the press, His Royal Majesty Elaigwu John, the paramount ruler of the Idoma nation, revealed these decisions. This announcement was conveyed by Onuminya Odoba, the Chief Palace Scribe.

Idomaland, known for its sizable population within Benue State and also present in Nasarawa, Taraba, and Cross River states, spans seven local government areas.

These reforms, initiated about a year and a half into John’s reign as Ochidoma since June 2022, were the outcome of extensive consultations among the Idoma Area Traditional Council, comprising rulers, political leaders, and community members.

According to the press release, the Idoma monarch was out to reform “some self-imposed, barbaric, and harsh cultural practices” that make life difficult for the people.

In the statement, the monarch declared; “Our deliberations arrived at the following conclusions for the immediate adherence of all true Idoma people, clans, tongues, and people under the Idoma Area Traditional Council:

“Imposition of costly prescriptions, stipulations, and requirements on the bereaved family for the burial rites of a deceased person is hereby prohibited in Idomaland.

“Burial rites should be conducted within affordable means of the family and, as much as possible, concluded within two to three weeks from the date of death.”

The council also prohibited “the practice of depriving the children and wife or wives of the deceased from inheriting his property.”

“The practice whereby relatives deny and deprive the children and wife or wive of the deceased of their right to inheritance of the deceased’s property is hereby prohibited.

“For the avoidance of doubt, where the deceased is survived by wife or wives and children, such children and wife or wives shall have the right of first consideration, in the apportioning of the inheritance, in the absence of a written will.”

On the burial of a married woman, the monarch said, “The deceased’s wife shall be buried in her husband’s place, except in special circumstances where the wife, during her lifetime, was married to and had children for more than one man, in which case, the wife may be buried in her father’s place to allow other husbands and children to partake in the burial rites.”

On marriage, the monarch said, “Traditional bride price in Idomaland is hereby unified and fixed at N50,000.

“All forms of stringent conditions, stipulations, and expectations associated with traditional marriage are hereby removed and prohibited.”

He also barred “indiscriminate burial of corpses within and around the community, especially in residential areas is prohibited, forthwith.”

“Every community is mandatorily required to, within a period not later than 31st December 2024, earmark and designate a place in each village or hamlet, as a burial ground, to bury corpses.

“Where for any special reasons, a person has to be buried within or around the compound, the permit of the traditional ruler must first be sought and obtained and such burial spot or grave must be marked and secured,” the monarch said.

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