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Tor Tiv Breaks With Tradition, Declines To Be Sworn-in Before “traditional God”

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 The newly selected paramount ruler of the Tivpeople, James Ayatse, has declined to take his oath of office before “Swem”, the traditional god of the Tiv people.

Mr. Ayatse, a professor, and two-term Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, and University of Mkar, has instead opted to be sworn in as the fifth Tor tiv with the Bible, the holy book of his Christian
faith.

The Chairman of the Planning Committee for the Coronation of the Tor Tiv V, Atom Okpera, a
retired army general, disclosed this at a press conference in Gboko, Benue State on Thursday.

Swem is the traditional god of the Tiv people and has its shrine in the palace of the Tor Tiv in Gboko.

If Mr. Ayaste’s decision stands, he will be the first Tor Tiv not to take his oath of office at the
shrine of the Swem. The four previous holders of the office had always invoked the powers of the
Swem, whom the Tiv people revere as a “just god”, in ruling over the people.

The Swem, according to Tiv tradition, adjudicates disputes among Tiv people without fear or
favour, ensuring justice irrespective of economic,
political and social status of the parties to a dispute.

According to the statement by the coronation committee, other traditional rite for the
coronation began on Wednesday in Gboko, with the climax and grand finale scheduled for
Saturday at the Gboko mini stadium from10:00a.m.

At the ceremony, Tiv sons and daughters were advised to appear in Tiv traditional attires. The Tiv are the dominant ethnic group in Benue State, but they are also found in large numbers in neighbouring Taraba State.