All you need to know about the Idoma tribe of Benue State, 2024

In this article News24ngr chronicles all you need to know about idoma people 2024

The idoma people are an ancient and energetic ethnic group inhabiting Nigeria. With a wealth of cultural legacy and century old historical records, the idoma community is an amazing illustration of different African cultures. From their traditional beliefs to their present day achievements. In this article, we will explore the world of idoma people, their culture, customs, history and achievement that define this incredible ethnic group.


The idoma people are estimated to be around 3.5 million in population, making them the second most populous ethnic group in Benue State.

The idomas are located in North- Central geopolitical zone of Nigeria specifically in western part of Benue State and are related to Nassarawa and Cross River States.

Their local government areas consists of Ado, Apa, Agatu, Obi, Ohimini, Ogbadibo, Oju, Okpokwu and Otukpo.


The idoma language belongs to Volta-Niger family of idomoid languages especially the Akweya subgroup which is in close relation with Yatye-Akpa.

They have different dialects, which include “Western Idoma,” which is mainly used by Ogbadibo and Okpokwu people; “Central Idoma,” which is well spoken in Ohimini and Otukpo regions; “Southern Idoma,” which can be heard in Ado local government area; and “Northern Idoma,” which is spoken by Apa and Agatu people.


The official colours of Idoma people are black and red. In all the attire that Idoma people made, they always had red and black stripes, which gave them unique identification.

Red signifies royalty, while black, also called ‘Opa or ”Edema’, signifies earth and burial shroud.


Majority of idoma people still believe in Alekwu spirit. Alekwu is a traditional god of idoma. The idomas believe that their local is meant to punish anyone that goes contrary to their morals and culture that has already been laid down.

For example an idoma woman who gets married to another idoma man is automatically under the oath of Alekwu.

The Alekwu spirit is there to oversee the woman and also keep tap on their fidelity so anyone under the alekwu spirit is usually at a risk of either falling or even sometimes dead and this curse can only be reversed or can only be broken when the offender confesses.

In most cases, women are usually the ones that bear the consequences.


The idoma people are headed by a spring head called Och’Idoma. The Och’Idoma is the Head of the Idoma Traditional Council who lives in a palace called Otukpo in Benue State.

The Idoma Area Traditional Council was introduced earlier by British. Och’Idoma symbolises unity of idoma people and it is responsible for maintaining the cultural heritage of the idoma nation.

Following the passing of his predecessor, HRH Agabaidu Elias Ikoyi Obekpa, who ruled from 1996 to October 2021, the current Och’Idoma, HRM, Elaigwu Odogbo John, the 5th Och’Idoma of the Idoma People, was installed on June 30, 2022.


Although the marriage custom of idoma people are equivalent to that of Igbo tribe, there are certain rites that differentiate their custom.

For example before a man(groom) marries a lady(bride), he must send someone that knows more about the lady’s family to find out about her background by checking if there’s any form of mental disease, epilepsy or other unwanted traits.

If the investigation goes well, the man’s family will visit the lady’s family and present kola nuts and palm wine as gifts.

They also present the lady’s family with money and rooster. Then if she collects these gifts and hand it over to the mum, she expresses her approval of the man (groom). If she rejects, she expresses her disapproval of the man(groom).


The idoma people are well known for one of their popular traditional meal which is known as Okoho. Okoho is one of the favourite soup of the Idoma people.

The Okoho soup is mostly eaten with fufu, Eba or pounded yam and it is prepared with Okoho plant, bush meat and other native ingredients.

The idomas also organises a food festival yearly to celebrate and demonstrate their assorted meals.


It is customary for the men to pound yam for their wives. This is not the case in other cultures where women are expected to handle all culinary tasks.

The Idoma men, however, are not listed as exempt. History claims that pounding yam is a traditional Idoma manly task and one of the men’s expectations. Men from different cultures still find this strange.


The Idoma people are a treasure trove of Nigeria culture and their rich cultural heritage deserves to be celebrated and preserved for future generations.



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