Benue state, with capital at Makurdi, was named after the famous River Benue, the second largest river in Nigeria, behind the River Niger. It was created out of the defunct Benue-Plateau State on 13, February 1976. Added to the emergent State was the enclave of the Igala ethnic group as well as some other parts of then Kwara State.
However, in 1991, the Igala segment was removed from Benue to create Kogi State.
Benue state is located in the so-called Middle-Belt axis of Nigeria due to its roughly central placement on the Nigerian map. The state lies between latitude 6o25l and 8o8lN and longitudes 7o47lE and 10oE. Its land area of about 34,059km2 is bordered by Nassarawa State to the north, Taraba to the northeast, Ebonyi and Cross River to the south, Anambra to the southwest and Kogi State to the west. There is also a short international boundary between the state and the Republic of Cameroon along Nigeria’s southeast border.
The population of Benue State according to the National Population Commission of Nigeria is 4,223,641- (Male: 2,114,043; Female: 2,109,598) making it the seventh most populated state in Nigeria.
The state is abundantly endowed with arable land suitable for agricultural practices and livestock rearing. The importance of agriculture in the state is further boosted by the existence of two agriculture research institutions among other higher citadels of learning in the state. Agricultural produce from the state include yams, rice, beans, cassava, potatoes, maize, soya beans, sorghum, millet and coco-yam. Benue State accounts for 70 percent of Nigeria’s Soya beans production. It also boasts one of the longest stretches of river systems in the country with potential for a viable fishing industry, dry season farming through irrigation and an inland water transportation system.
Currently, the State owes its legal existence to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. As a State, it is constitutionally mandated to establish:
- an Executive arm of government headed by an elected Governor;
- a legislative arm of government which members shall be drawn from constituencies defined in the Constitution. Its activities are presided over by a Speaker elected by the members of the State House of Assembly which oversees the exercise of the State’s legislative energies;
- a judicial arm made up of judges, magistrates and other officers that help in the administration of justice and related activities within the State. The judicial arm is headed by the State’s Chief Justice. Nonetheless, judicial pronouncement of the State’s tribunals are subject to the appellate review of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Nigeria, in that order;
- maintain the Local Government level of governance. Presently, the Nigerian Constitution prescribes 23 Local Government Areas for the State; and
- mobilize the powers of the State, the institutions and resources of its arms and levels of government in order to secure a socio-economic environment for persons resident in the State and its other stakeholders to pursue legitimate goals in dignity under the State’s justice administration umbrella.
The Benue State legal system comprises;
- The compendium of Constitutional provisions applicable to the State as one of the 36 States that constitute the Nigerian Federation;
- Laws made by the Federal Legislature applicable throughout the entire federation or specifically to Benue State;
- Laws made (or deemed to have been made), by the State’s legislature;
- Laws made by Local Government Councils in the State;
- Customary laws or other customs of the market place applicable under the operation of Law;
- Judicial precedents of the courts of the State and of appellate courts with jurisdictions over its tribunals like the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Nigeria;
- Judicial precedents of federation tribunals like the Federal High Court, the National Industrial Court, Code of Conduct Tribunal, Investments and Securities Tribunal and so on to the extent to which their mandates allow;
- Law enforcement institutions, law enforcement officers, judges, legal practitioners, judiciary workers, other professionals and persons recognized at various levels as part of the justice administration complex of the State.
Sources of Benue State Legal System include:
- The Constitution of Nigeria (including its amendments and other laws it refers to expressly as having the same character as provisions contained within the formal Constitutional document;
- Laws of the Federation of Nigeria;
- Legislations of the National Assembly applicable to Benue State;
- Legislations of the State House of Assembly;
- Recognized customs of the people of Benue State;
- Judicial precedents of courts with judicial authority over Benue State;
- Local Government edicts.
BENUE STATE BY LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS
LEGAL SYSTEMS OF THE FEDERATING UNITS OF NIGERIA – 37 STATES/FCT