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Elias Obekpa

Early Years

HRH, Agabaidu Elias Ikoyi Obekpa, the Och’idoma IV, was born on 31st December 1944 to the family of Chief Obekpa Onoja of Ipole-Otukpa in Ogbadibo Local Government Area.

After obtaining his First School Leaving Certificate from St Mary’s Primary School, Otukpo, HRH Obekpa gained admission into St Enda’s Teachers College, Bassawa-Zaria (the college later became Bassawa Teachers College in 1973 before becoming the present day FGGC Zaria in 1998).

Building the Next Generation

HRH Obekpa realised his childhood ambition in 1966 when he graduated with a Teacher Certificate Grade II, which was the minimum requirement to teach in primary schools prior to 1998 when Nigerian Certificate in Education (NCE) became the prerequisite.

HRH Obekpa taught in a primary school in Samaru-Zaria from 1967 to 1968 before transferring his service to the Benue-Plateau State Government. He would later rise to the position of a Headmaster before leaving teaching in pursuit of further education at the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria in 1971.

Helping the Government to Raise Funds

At ABU, HRH Obekpa studied Business Administration, graduating with a BSc (Honours) degree in 1974 and completed the then newly introduced National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, in Cross Rivers State during the 1974/75 service year. On return to the Benue-Plateau State Civil Service after his study leave and national service, HRH Obekpa changed career and became a Tax Administrator in the Ministry of Finance.

Upon the creation of Benue State in 1976, HRH Obekpa’s service got transferred to Benue State Civil Service and he continued to excel as a Tax Administrator, rising to the position of Director of Tax Administration by 1993. And in recognition of his good qualities, he was appointed the Chairman and Chief Executive of Benue State Board of Internal Revenue, BIRS in 1994. His leadership of BIRS led to increased revenue for the government of then Military Administrator, Group Captain Joshua Obademi.

Not one to rest on his laurels, HRH Obekpa studied for an executive management course at Arthur D. Little School of Management in Cambridge, Massachusetts (now Hult International Business School) and graduated in 1982 with an MSc in Business Management. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria.

The Agabaidu

Following the death in April 1996 of HRH Agabaidu Edwin Ogbu, the Och’Idoma III, it was no surprise when HRH Obekpa was chosen by the Idoma kingmakers his successor. HRH Obekpa then left BIRS to become the Och’Idoma IV at an event full of pomp and ceremony in Otukpo on Saturday 7th December 1996.

In his 25 years on the throne, HRH Obekpa built a reputation for being a man of peace and harmony, playing pivotal roles in reconciling politicians and thought leaders of differing opinions. He oversaw a massive improvement in the relationships between communities in Idoma Land as well as with neighbouring tribes. HRH Obekpa was also credited with being responsible for the high level of respect Chiefs and District Heads now enjoy in Idoma Land.

On 30th September 2006, the Federal Government conferred on HRH Obekpa, who was the Chairman of Idoma Traditional Council and Vice Chairman of Benue State Council of Chiefs, a national honour, the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) for his contribution to the promotion of peace, unity and harmony in Nigeria. 

HRH Obekpa was the Chancellor of Federal University of Kashere and was married to Chief (Mrs) Florence Alametu Obekpa (nee Edache), a retired Nursing Matron for 52 years and their long marriage was blessed with nine children (three sons and six daughters).

Sadly, HRH Obekpa departed this world on 9th October 2021 and was buried in the early hours of 10th October 2021 in line with Idoma traditional rites for Chiefs.


  1. Our Heroes, Otukpo Local Government Area. Webpage no longer available [Accessed 24 May 2015]
  2. Dawodu.com, 2006 Nigerian National Honor Award. [Accessed 09 February 2018]
  3. His Royal Highness, Agabaidu Elias Ikoyi Obekpa, the Och'Idoma of Idoma Land, Ipole K’Idoma. Webpage no longer available [Accessed 12 February 2018]
  4. OBEKPA, HRH Elias Ikoyi, Biographical Legacy and Research Foundation (Blerf). [Accessed 12 February 2018]
  5. St Joseph’s Minor Seminary, Zaria, at 50!, Zwahu's Cathartics. [Accessed 24 December 2019]
  6. Jonathan Appoints New Chancellors For Federal Universities, Legit. [Accessed 25 December 2019]

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Emmanuel Igoch… - Fri, 07-Jan-22 - 07:44

Truely, a great icon of the traditional institution of Africa. A unifier. A model.
Rest on, Agabaidu.

Cecilia Itodo - Sun, 23-Aug-20 - 13:28

What a great man a blessing to idoma people, long life Sir