Reasons for the Deposition of Traditional Rulers by the British in Katsina Emirate

Published in Al’adunmu Journal of Current Research in African Studies, First Edition, Vol. 1 No. 1, January, 2018, page 56. Katsina State History and Culture Bureau in Collaboration with Faculty of Humanities Umaru Musa Yar’adua Katsina – Nigeria


Reasons for the Deposition of Traditional Rulers by the British in Katsina Emirate

Dr. Bashir Aliyu Sallau
Executive Director


Danjuma Adamu


Usman Aliyu Kofar Soro
Katsina State History and Culture Bureau
P.M.B. 2146, Katsina-Nigeria


Not long after the establishment or introduction of colonial rule, many problems cropped up to necessitate drastic actions on some of the traditional rulers. At the peak of these actions was deposition of some of these rulers. This chapter intends to discuss the reasons for the deposition. The conceptual analysis in the deposition of traditional rulers in Katsina emirate seems to be associated with a number of issues. These include palace politics, conspiracy and issues surrounding the emergence of Mahdi, and Satiru rebellion of 1906, taxation, land and taki system, land assessment.  The other issues has to do with reorganization of districts in the emirate. These were the major factors or reasons that led to the deposition of traditional rulers in Katsina emirate, as will be seen in the following details.[1]

Role of Katsina Emirate in 1906 Satiru uprising

The Mahdist propaganda which culminated in the famous Satiru rebellion of February 1906, best illustrates the aims of the scattered Mahdist movement and the potential danger it posed to the British. To understand this better, more especially when one considers that the Sokoto leadership had been reported in the colonial records before 1906 as remarkably calm and loyal to the British. Internally peasant followers and the Ulama of the time were however of the view that, Muslims were forbidden by Allah to be under the rule of infidels.[2]These assertions encourage emir Abubakar and Yero to assist Sultan Attahiru with money, food and soldiers to fight against the British.

The establishment of Mahdist camp was as a result of British-French conquest of Dikwa in Borno where Rabe and his son with other followers were killed in 1889, and the conquest of Sokoto caliphate in 1903. According to an informant, Malam Amadu, one of the leaders of Mahdist camp locally known as ‘yantsarior ‘yantubu, their ancestors hailed from Borno. They migrated to part of Katsina including Ingawa as a result of British occupation of their land which led to their resettlement at Dindiyal in Iya district. Their resistance to British in the payment of tax and or Zakka to infidel government, Western Education and many more of these led to disagreement with British and the native rulers in Katsina’[3]. But for the activities of the Mahdist, they became so rampant that Lugard noted in 1906, that ‘I do not think a year has passed since 1900 without one or more Mahdist movement’. These activities convulsed the region and made 1906 a crisis year for the British administration in Northern Nigeria. [4]

Development of Mahdist movement and the British in Katsina

As early as 1902, Malam Maizanna had proclaimed himself Mahdi, and had called on people to derive out the Europeans because he believed that whoever worked with the infidels was also an infidel.[5] This led to the migration of district head of Kogo and his followers (Faskari) to Tsafe in Zamfara[6]. Also a White man was killed in 1910 at Hamis in Iya district and there was serious uprising and migration emanating from Pauwa district.[7] There was also a very serious tension emanating from Katsina as reported by the assistant Resident of Katsina H. R. Palmer.        

Added to that, was the migration of Sultan Attahiru who was assisted by Emir Abubakar and Yero with information and guidance from Katsina. To justify their passive resistance to the British as reported by Muffett. 

 ‘While in Shinkafi a messenger came from the Emir of Katsina, Abubakar, bringing gifts of eighteen bales of cloth to the Sultan in a wrapper. When the Sultan left Shinkafi he spent the night at Kwarin Zurmi. Early next day he proceeded to Ruma. The party there met with some horsemen from Katsina in the forest. They told the sultan that Europeans were around. They left Katsina the previous day and would have probably spent the last night at Barawa. The horsemen added that it seemed as if they intended to reach Ruma on that very day, since, as they left, the people were arranging accommodation for them (the Europeans) who were accompanied by many soldiers.’[8]

 Satiru revolt came during the unfortunate period for the British administration. Major Burdon, the Resident of Sokoto Province, had left Sokoto. Mr. Hillary. Was determined to proceed at once to the spot, arrest the leaders and bring them to trial.  To support him he took Lieutenant Blackwood, the Medical officer, and the Sokoto garrison.

This force was attacked on reaching Satiru on 10th February 1906. The acting Resident, his assistant, the military officer and 27 native ranks and camp-follows were killed. The doctor and Sergeant Gosling were wounded and struggled back to Sokoto. The Maxim gun taken along by the garrison was also seized. The people of Satiru had broken the invincibility of the white man and his maxim gun. And as Lugard confessed, he was in ignorance of the power which could have annihilated a whole company of mounted infantry, which was reported to be well-trained and well equipped with modern weapons.[9]

The event of Satiru and the British failure in the first battle of 1906 had broken the camel back in the history of British conquest of Northern Nigeria. The event also led to so many active resistances in the conquered areas including Katsina, Where the military barrack, offices, and other properties acquired by the Europeans were attacked. Emir Abubakar and Yero were at the receiving end in the history of Satiru uprising. The Resident and other European staff were instructed to go out of Katsina for the safety of their lives. In 1905 Abubakar was deposed so also Yero in 1906.[10] The above shows that, British authority had succeeded in deposing the two Emirs.

Early in 1906, Malam Yahaya from Kontagora started preaching against the payment of taxes to the British administration and predicted the impending termination of British rule. Present were to be brought to Malam and not to the British officials. He also prophesied the imminent advent of a terrible thing with 70,000 guns….Coming from the four corners of the earth. This mysterious force would presumably be needed to exterminate the British who appeared invincibly by mortal forces.[11]

In August 1906, Assistant Resident of the time, H. R. Palmer was sent by the senior Resident Kano to announce and introduce new taxations scheme to Emir Yero. In discussing the matter with the Emir, he stated that the scheme was impossible and would not work. The Resident further explained to him the initial steps to be taken, but after some time he influenced the Head men against the taxation scheme which is unreligious; the Emir publicly explained to the Head men that whoever join hand with white men in collecting taxes from a Muslim is also an infidel (kafiri).

The Emir publicly called those district Heads Kafirai on ground that they have accepted the European policies of taxation and administration; he further informed the Resident that those Head men were not his men. To complement the call of Mahdi Yahaya, the Emir divided Katsina into two classes; ‘white men’s group, which he designated the Head men that cooperated with the British, and ‘Emir’s men’ i.e. the Gidan Sarki, his relation and friends. The Emir refused to enter Mosque with some of the British loyalist like Galadima, Dikko, Dambo etc. he publicly taunted them Kafirai.

The Emir and Gumel Emirate had similar ideas of stinging the will of the British by rejecting their policies in all level of administration. On 6th December, at Dan-Buni the Resident found that the suitor in a case before the Alkalin Gumel had been to the Emir Yero, who had for 21 bags of cowries upset the verdict. This form of misrule was very frequent and was naturally not calculated to help Native Court. The Resident told the Emir that all emancipations were to be done before the Alkali, the Emir, or myself with the proper witness. He took this occasion to send out messengers with the following message;

               ‘Anyone who wants to buy slave can do so by

                              paying 10,000 cowries to the Emir, who will take

                              him to the White man’.


The Resident could hardly believe him guilty of such folly, but that on two occasions shortly after, account complainants came to him to report that they had paid their 10,000 cowries and could not get their slaves.

The evidences were circumstantial that he could not doubt the names of the messenger who reported the incidences to him. Some of these messengers were:  

 Ma’azu reported to Haruna.

                               Badami reported to Galadima Kaffin Dakdaku

                               Dagi reported to Kaura

                               Barka Daji reported to Durubi

                               Badami reported to Kankia       

Some of the Heads men were influenced by the resident to go against the Emir but this proved abortive. The climax was reached when the Resident travelled to Zaria for an assignment, the emir and other palace slaves circulated a story that ‘the Resident was disgraced and sent back home’

In conclusion, the Resident was credibly informed that the Emir was in communication with rebels at Sokoto, and had received a messenger from their chief in the house of one of his boys, Jibo. The Emir issued orders to the people to arm themselves. People were instructed that, all Maradi’s should be driven out of Katsina, a course which the Emir knew well would provoke war with Maradi, possibly hoping that some of the companies would go out to fight.                    

Conspiracy and Politics in Katsina

 Conspiracy and palace politics were among the points Resident Oliver had put forward as reasons for the deposition. Emir Abubakar and his palace staff were considered by Oliver in 1904 to be among the major obstacles to effective and efficient administration in Katsina. Some of his efforts to work with the traditional chiefs were not successful and he blamed this on the anti-British stance of the powerful and influential palace administration. Oliver, therefore, considered it essential to reduce this antipathy. Thus, when the second-ranking slave in the palace (Sarkin Bai) died but, over the strenuous objections of the Emir, Oliver demanded and secured the appointment of his own candidate, Yusami who was the grandfather of Alhaji Saidu Barda, to fill in the vacant position. But unfortunately this interference in palace politics only tended to stiffen the relationship with the palace staff.[12]

In another issue, the palace advisors (i.e. the titled slaves) then sought to demoralize Oliver by placing charms along the major caravan route and spreading rumors that the Resident’s well was poisoned. They hoped that these tactics, in addition to a policy of non-cooperation and passive resistance, would eventually frustrate and discourage the British and would lead to their voluntary abandonment of the Emirate. Oliver became convinced that the power of the palace slaves had to be reduced and that this could only be achieved through the deposition of Abubakar, Yero, and District Headmen who cooperated with them and find their replacement with those who would not be deeply influenced by the palace courtiers. He therefore sought to develop a case for Abubakar’s removal.[13]

A justification for his deposition was found in December, 1904 when a dead dog with poisonous leather pouches tied around its neck was found in Resident Olivier’s well. Abubakar was summoned, but the exhaustive enquiries at Katsina suggested that the dead dog incident was a conspiracy by the anti-Abubakar elements who were anxious to have the Emir deposed in order to advance their own political careers. Galadima Sallau and some relatives from Emir Musa’s family were at forefront in the political vanguard that desired for Abubakar’s removal. Olivier, too, yearned for his removal and therefore found this conspiracy as an opportunity to capitalize on, even though the impunity was never proved.[14]

Finally, Resident H.R. Palmer admitted that:

                 Abubakar, like all the Emirs then, sat on the fence but he was

                                Not disloyal, i.e. not actively disloyal….and he was deposed

                                for a matter he had nothing to do with, i.e. putting a dead dog

                                Into the Residence well. [15]

 Oral testimonies suggest that the trumped up dog incident was engineered by Durbi Dikko and some of Abubakar’s brothers, (Dan Yusufa, Bebeji Bello and Kanwa) all of whom undoubtedly aspired to become Emir. Individuals close to the situation also strongly intimated that the British Resident knew very well that it was a crumped up charge but that he was anxious to find an excuse for the removal of this intransient Emir who had caused him so much trouble and embarrassment.[16]

Before the appointment of Dikko, it was proved that, there were some disputes with Galadima of Sokoto, who was then Ubandawaki of Katsina. It was  matter in which a secret sympathizer of the Emir Abubakar (whose daughter Durbi had married) was entirely with Durbi, but as he had a large family he did not wish to ‘bail the cat’ himself.  But with the coming of the British, Durbi would raise some kind of a rebellion. This was of course all known in Sokoto, and no doubt Durbi knew well enough that, had it been that Sokoto remained in power he would not have remained long with the tittle of Durbi.[17]

In 1904, a Resident was appointed for Katsina; from the word go Durbi as he once told the Emir of Kano, Abbas, ‘put both his feet into the well’ in that he made himself indispensable. Abubakar like all the Emirs then, sat on the fence, but he was not disloyal, i.e. actively disloyal, and he was deposed in 1904 for a matter he had nothing to do with, i.e. for putting a dead dog in the Resident well. Also the desire of the Emir Yero to get rid of all Abubakar loyalists and of their adherents such as Durbi: this drove Durbi still further into British camp. For instance he attempted to disperse Shinkafi and all the villages in that region by a plea that the land was wanted for ‘hurumi’ (cattle grazing).[18]

The Role Taxation Assessment and the Jakadu System

The beginning of the fourth year of administration saw the protectorate under complete control, divided into province, each with its Resident in charge, assisted by a small staff and supported by garrisons occupying the major strategic points.  The Principal Emirs had all been installed personally by the High Commissioner. And had accepted formally and publically the conditions of appointment explained by him. The time had now arrived when they might with Justice be called upon to contribute a portion of the expenses of administration from the Revenue secured to them.[19]

Pre-Colonial System of Taxation

In Sokoto Caliphate, the existing forms of taxation were based on the Qur’anic model, but had become greatly diversified in different Emirates.  Independent non-Muslim communities paid zakat on the services rendered to them, and were raided for slavery. Such communities as were conquered paid heavy taxes, which were arbitrarily imposed on the services rendered to them, while semi-independent tribes paid just as much as their nominal rulers could enforce, and were also raided at will. The principal taxes were:[20]

(a)   The Zakka; or tithe on corn, which was limited to the two staple crops of the Emirate: in theory it was due from Muslims (and not from non-Muslim), and should be devoted to charity and religion, and perhaps to state purpose; in practice it seemed in most province, except Sokoto, to have wholly lost its special character and to have been in-discriminately levied on all.[21]

(b)   The Kudin Kasa; or land tax, theoretically the tribute of the conquered non-Muslim Communities:  was arbitrarily levied, and increased at will. In Borno and else-where it tended to become a simple poll-tax, or Plantation taxes, levied on all crops other than the two which paid Zakka. The Jangali, or cattle tax, originally a tithe, and levied only on cattle and not on flocks; varied in amount, was in some cases changed to a levy per head of cattle.[22]

(c)   The Sokoto Gaisuwa, a varying sum paid by all other emirates to Sokoto and Gwandu; probably had its origin as a religious duty, and consisted of a share of the Zakka or Kudin Kasa. In practice it was a levy made by the Emir upon all his sub-ordinate chiefs, paid chiefly in horses and slaves. Of this he retained a portion for himself and sent a portion to Sokoto. Though in theory a tax on the wealthy, was made as an excuse for fresh extortion to the peasantry. Many emirates had already ceased to send this contribution, or had cut it down to a mere nominal amount.[23] With the advent of British administration, these taxes to Sokoto were discontinued. Sokoto was thus deprived of revenue, and, as no taxes were collected in the Muslim Province (except the zakka, which was devoted to religion), there was an additional urgent reason for the administration to take the taxation question in hand and to devise a means of meeting its difficulty.[24]

(d)   Kudin Sarauta was an accession duty paid by every chief or holder of office on appointment. Its misuse had led to there sale of office to the highest bidder, and the dispossession of holders in order to create a vacancy. Every form of handicraft was separately taxed. Vendors in the market, merchants, traders, and brokers were taxed at varying rate in different places for income, apart from the tolls taken on caravan.  Death duties (Gado) were collected, and in-tested estates generally lapsed to the Emir if there was no recognized heir.[25]

(e)    Fines, court bribe and presents were also collected from an inferior visitor to his superior. Moreover, arbitrary collections on special occasions and many other irregular levies were added to the exaction made by the Chiefs, while forced labour was used for the building of houses, repair of city wall, construction of roads etc. In addition to these, there were a very large number of minor special taxes, such as those on brewers, on date palms, prostitutes and dancing girls and on gamblers. In Bornu the ‘Haku Binirum’ is assessed on every householder, and appears to be a graduated tax on property and wealth. The only other taxes in Bornu appear to have been the equivalents of Zakka, Janagli, and Gado (death-duties). [26]

Proposal of Government Tax Reform

In 1904 a ‘Land Revenue’ Proclamation was enacted, under which the government claimed the right to a certain proportion of the tribute (revenue) paid by the agricultural and pastoral population in respect of their land produce,  flocks and herds, and the assessment of this tribute to their chiefs was proceeded with during the year.[27] Since a large proportion of the peasantry are serfs, who have no individual right in the lands they cultivate, the taxes were modified and simplified and to insist on these being paid as here to fore to the chief, while he (relieved of the expense of maintaining an army or police to enforce payment) handed over to the government a proportion of the tribute thus obtained through its agency.[28]

Taxation in the Colonial period

The introduction of taxes followed by radical changes and some disagreement between the native rulers and the Europeans was in two ways: Emir’s assessment, which went along with Jakadu and Resident’s assessment,that they did away with the duties of Jakadu. In the end there were series of disagreement between Jakadu, Alkalai and other palace staffs due to clash of interest.[29]

The Katsina Native administration introduced the work of Ward Heads, Village Heads, and District Heads system under a fixed salary based on their collections. The Europeans staffs were ordered to check themselves in the field, the information given to them by the Native officials, and to draw a conclusion as to taxation. Organization, etc. from the facts verified by Europeans staff and report them to Resident for Resident assessment. The report includes:[30]

       1. A general report on the district

       2. A ma p showing each Village and the boundaries of the district and sub-districts.

       3. Provincial record sheets filled and its taxations.

       4. Provincial record sheets filled in showing each village and districts.

With the above, it is easy to labour the detail to the extent of losing sight of the main issues; the main issues were a close scrutiny and record of the taxation, organization and the location of each village and district, from the point of view of the division as a whole. The payment of salaries is based on percentage to the traditional rulers, which in turn raised objections from Jakadu, Palace Staff, the native heads and the Emir himself (Dikko).[31] The objection on the part of the present Emir of Katsina (Dikko) to this system was natural because of the revenue and the percentage derived from the collection, it is an exact repetition of the objections made by all Fulani Emirs in the past: to the formation of district in the first place and the formation of the village unit in the second place.[32] This objection must be taken into account or no doubt there would be yet a third Emir of Katsina in a short time. The emir was ordered to accept native administration assessment.

The British, due to lack up staff to carry out the assessment, difficulty would probably arise that;[33] it will be hard to differentiate the village in some cases i.e. several hamlets will be grouped in a village, but the resident was quite certain the Emir with his malamai could produce good records. At the same time he could not draw a map of a very important part of the assessment and but the British doubted whether the Arabic records would be in a form to convey information readily to succeeding officers. The Emir was asked to come out and assess the tax with the resident or he would be considered under the misapprehension as a passive resister and was required to learn discipline, and administrative techniques.

The emirate was divided under a kind of feudal system into Fiefs, and in most provinces the estates of a fief-holder were scattered at distances from each other. The Fief-holders in most cases resided at the capital, and the taxes were collected by Jakadu.The former usually went round at the time the tax was due, the latter lived on the country. These tax gatherers were the curse of the country, and practiced oppression and extortion. In theory, they had no power; in practice, they terrorized the peasantry. They were also the agents, messengers, and spies of the Emir or Fief-holder, who report deaths for the collection of gado and all other forms of taxes. [34]

The aim of the administration was to abolish the intermediate Jakada system and to allow the district headman known as ‘district assessment’, who was formerly overridden by him, to collected from each village headman (who in turn collect the assessed amount from the individuals of his village) and brought in the tribute direct to the Emir, who would pay the agreed proportion to government.[35]

The district headman may be one of the old Fief-holders, provided that under a redistribution scheme which presents to difficulties his fief or district is homogenous and no longer scattered, and that he resides upon it. If not a fief-holder, he would probably be the chief of the most important town in the district, and the man of the greatest local influence and importance. If the fief-holder declined the position of the district headman, he became merely an office-holder under the Emir at the capital, or a private gentleman drawing his income partly from the Emir at the capital,  who divides his share of the tribute (revenue) with him and partly from his private estates or from trade. If he became a district headman he might hold a titular office at the capital and reside there for a short period of time.[36]

Changes in the Taxation of Katsina Division: There were three Emirates in the division; Katsina, Daura, and Kazaure. Before 1903, these emirates were tributary to Sokoto; their status was that of conquered states paying tribute to Sokoto Caliphate over-lord. There is no pretense that they were on an equality with the Sokoto Emirate, or that Sokoto was the only province intersperse. At the beginning of Fulani rule Sokoto was simply a camp in the bush whereas Kano, Katsina, Daura etc. were autonomous emirates possessing system of taxation which, though differing probably in detail, were on the whole of a similar character.[37]

Though it appears that the Fulani did not increase taxation but possibly decreased it, yet as time went on the Sokoto demand increased. The popularity of Sarakai of Daura and Katsina came to depend on the size of the gaisuwa rent to the Sarkin Musulmi. In addition to their high officials at Sokoto like the Waziri and Galadima had to be kept in good honour by large and constant presence.[38]The outcome of all these was that the Emirs of Hausa land increased means of raising revenue, and the class of wealthy talakawa and big traders who were believed to be found in good numbers in Bida and Sokoto province ceased to exist except to a limited extent in the town of Kano itself. Even though, if the Katsina Emir heard that a talaka had money it was not long before that money was in Katsina, and thence the bulk of it went to Sokoto.

The British occupation of Sokoto Caliphate changed the status of the emirs in Hausa Land and the revenue sharing formula. The colonial government demanded a share of 50% tribute certainly not less than formally paid to Sokoto, and at the same time insisted that the peasant should not be robbed to pay it.[39]

The various emirs had two alternatives before them; first, to put down robbery, illegal fining with a firm hand. And cutting down their expenses, in order make money for payment of the government share. Second, to live themselves and allowed their chiefs to rise as they always had done, and raise money in some way by directly or indirectly increasing taxation.[40]

In Katsina emirate, therefore, only the headquarters of administration was detached enough and strong enough to enforce taxation. It was is to grant that the entire policy instituted by Sir Frederick Lugard was carried out by mistaken, and that the system of government through emirs representatives i.e. Jakada, to the exclusion of the local authority was the right one. Similarly, the emirs and district heads, naturally that, they would have first of all resisted the formation of District for their interest.[41]

‘The tax levied on each household must be known to, or at all event knowable by not only the district headman and Maigari but the central Native administration. I quite agree with this. Lugard, I quite agree too with your suggestion in that the village should keep records as full as possible. Still this is not saying that the tax should be assessed and collected from the individual or by a representative from the central authority (i.e. Jakada) which is the emir’s main contention’.[42]

Also in Katsina, taxes might conveniently be considered during three periods. First, the taxes levied before Sir, F. Lugard’s visit to Katsina in 1903. Second, the taxes levied between that time and the changes which were made as the result of the policy outlined in political memorandum. Third, the taxes as they are today.

The taxes which were being levied at the time of the arrival of the British divided themselves naturally into two classes (a) recognized regular taxes (b) irregular levies or ‘aids’. [43]

When the Emir of Katsina Abubakar, was asked for a government share of his revenue he did three things: (1) increased the amount of certain taxes so that his own income should be diminished as little as possible. (2) Sent the head slaves and Jakadu to the Residency with list of taxes which now appear radicle. (3) Dropped the collection of irregular levies as not being practicable.[44]

As will be seen, the major taxes in the Emirate were Kudin Kasa, Rogo (cassava), Dankali (potatoes), and Gujiya (groundnut), were increased from 1200 cowries (9d) to 400 cowries (2s/6d) per holding, an increase of over  200%. These four taxes were the total revenue from land in the proportion of about 30- 300%. The Land taxes were therefore raised to 60%. As an offset against this, from the point of view of the talaka was partial immunity from irregular exaction, though they by no means ceased even then.[45]

Such was the position as regard to the tax-payer from 1903 to the autumn of 1905, at that time the ex-emir Yero was passively resisting changes in the method of collection of taxes. The changes however took place. But among the things that were most apparent on tax was the collection taken out of the hands of the palace slaves and Jakadu, and district created under responsible heads, was the fact that the increased tax on ground nut (gujiya) was most impolite and a real grievance was on reduction on the part of the emir but double to 1200 cowries.

The occasion was taken to abolish the Bori Tax (on dancing women) as being a disreputable form of revenue and moreover not worth collecting. No further changes in connections with taxation took place during 1905 or 1906 as changes in method of collecting after the emirate had been divided into compact district. During that period orders were given that all the various taxes enumerated above which had formerly cash of them a separate collector who was generally a slave, and in some areas e.g. Zakka, land taxes. 

The formation of the village unit had been the key stage of the policy since the protectorate was initiated. It is necessarily and must be whatever forms of administration were set up direct or indirect. The objection on the part of the then emir of Katsina (Dikko) to this system was natural, it was an exact reputation of the objections made by Fulani Emirs and in the past you have commented fairly severally on such objections in the case of other Emirs to the formation of district in the first place and to the formation of the Village unit in the second place.[46]This objection must be taken into account, either to change or no doubt there would be third Emir of Katsina in a short time, and I am quite prepared to advance very slowly and in fact to make the alteration until we have more detailed knowledge of the district.[47]

By 1911 an administration solution was sought through the introduction of Taki system of assessment. Within four years it had increased the revenue of Katsina enough to make it feasible to place all District Heads on a fixed salary paid regularly by the central Native Authorities out of their own treasury. The latter reform, implemented in 1915, was bitterly resented by the majority of the district heads. First of all, many had greeted the introduction of the Taki system with disfavor because it was operated by assessment officials employed by the central Native Authorities and usually not indigenous to the district in which they worked.

Furthermore, although the Taki system increased revenue, the district Heads feared that by being on fixed salaries they would no longer have control over their own remuneration. The latter fact, compounded with the appearance of Taki officials, was interpreted by the District Heads as unnecessary interference by the central Native Authorities in the activities of Local government.[48]

Some district heads reacted to these reforms by continuing to deduct money from the revenue collected in their administrative districts. The result was that at the end of the 1915 tax year, these individuals were found to be owing money to the N. A. Treasury. The British interpreted this as embezzlement and used it as a pretext to remove un-cooperative or inefficient district Heads and to make further territorial reform.[49]

Beginning in late 1914, the number of the deposition in the emirate began to rise dramatically. At that time, the district head of Kusada was removed for embezzlement and the district was amalgamated with Kankiya. For the same reason, the district heads of Bebeji and Majidadi were deposed and were merged with that of Sarkin Fada’s. The latter becoming the district head of the all three. In 1915, the British agreed to the deposition of the Sarkin Sullubawa on grounds of inefficient administration. Dikko was allowed to fill the vacancy with one of the confidants- despite the fact that the district had been held by members of the Dunyawa Sullubawa clan since the Jihad. Other deposed District and Village Heads included Gingimari Magaji of Washemi ran away from Iya District in 1914, Nayari was dismissed for embezzlement of hut taxes in Kahutu Galadima District in 1914.[50]

Yuguda was sentenced to prison for slave raiding in Jibia, Galadima district in 1914, Musa ran away, he was said to have embezzled over 2 pounds Land tax in Yarima District in 1914, Dambo ran away for embezzlement of taxes in Dan Yusufa District in 1914, Gagamari and Dan Gogo ran away for tax embezzlement in Kankiya District in 1914. In 1915 the 19th century warrior, Danwaire of Ruma district was also deposed for administrative problem. Musa, district head of Kogo, was deposed in 1946 for tax embezzlement, the detail of their cases and judgments will be discussed in the next chapter.[51]

Attitude of the Traditional Rulers

The attitude of the traditional rulers towards the administration of the British was also the contributing factor to their deposition. Also the desire to make money and maintenance of old order had been the stumbling block in the history of Katsina.[52] That, further increase the rate of deposition of the tradition rulers. 

Added to that, there were so many reasons that could be attributed to the grouping of the villages as they were made. The first and probably the most important was the desire by the colonial administration to stop the high rate of tax embezzlement by the village heads. Tandama Village heads for instance, had successively been dismissed for this reason.  Starting from Na- Biye (the village head in office in 1907), Mazadu Bello, who was in office in 1915 when the district was created, Sambo and Yero, all these  village heads were dismissed for embezzlement of tax in Tandama alone between 1907-1927. [53]

Corruption in the Katsina Taxation System

Another important point that needs examination was the reason given by the British officials that some of the village administrators were extremely corrupt. This could be a fact but sometimes this term was used as an excuse or a justification in order to break up an area or to remove its village head from ruling i.e. it was probable that some of the claims were false in many instances. One of the effects of the groupings was that it had decentralized powers from a few hands and had made rulers less vulnerable to autocracy.[54] It had weakened the power of village heads and established more control of the activities of the people at the grassroots. [55] the method employed by the British in checking the corrupt traditional ruler include, Jangali receipt embezzled, being different between the amount collected and the amount paid by the village heads and total amount remitted to Katsina treasury.

The stock value of items issued by the Native Authority to district heads for sales in the district, which are missing and for which no money has been remitted to the treasury. Others included tax collected by the district head differ from the number of registered tax payers.

The daily expenditure of the traditional rulers before the British rule is high and they cannot maintain during the British rule, resulted to corrupt practice which the British used as yard stick in deposition of traditional rulers.[56] Before 1960 there were over sixty traditional rulers who were deposed by the British.  


One may believe the fact that, the British administration in Northern Nigeria was a turning point in the History of Sokoto Caliphate. The method and other techniques applied by the Europeans in the deposition of Native Rulers proved successful despite the rebellions and traditional attitude of the Rulers of the time that turn down the British policies for them to prove abortive.       


Aguda. T. A. The Law of Evidence, Ibadan, Spectrum Books Limited, 1966.

Boahen. A. A. African Perspectives on Colonialism, London, the John Hopkins University Press. 1960.

Babalola. A. Law and Practice of Evidence in Nigeria, Ibadan, Sibon Books Limited. 2001

Buell. R. L. The Native Problem in Africa, Ibadan, Longman Books, 1976

Crowder. M. The Story of Nigeria, London, Heinemann Educational Books, 1965

Crowder. M. West African Resistance, London, Hutchinson University Library for Africa. 1971

Esiemokhai. E. O. The Colonial Legal Heritage in Nigeria, Akure, Fagbamigbe Publishers. 1984

Freund. B. The Making of Contemporary Africa, London, PalGrave Publishers. 1984

Ibrahim. O. F. Prince of the Times, Eritrea, African World Press. 2001

Idris. A. M. The Kogo Chiefdom, Kaduna, Joyce Graphic Printer and Publishers Company. 2013

Imam. K. Usman Nagogo, Kaduna, Today Publication Limited. 1995

Ikime. O. Groundwork of Nigerian History, Ibadan, HEBN Publishers Plc. 1980

Ikime. O. The Fall of Nigeria, London, Heinemann Educational Books, 1977 

Lugard. L. Financial Memoranda for Use in Native Treasuries, Kaduna, Gaskiya Corporation .1951

Lugga. S. A. The Great Province, Lugga Press Ltd. 1993

Lugga. S. A. Dikko Dynasty, Katsina, Lugga Press, 2006

Lugard. L. The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa, London, Frank Cass and Co. Ltd. 1965

Mahadi. A. and Falola. T. History of Nigeria 3, Ikeja, Longman Nigeria Plc. 1991

McLean. I. and Anionwu. L.O.V. The Law Report of the Northern Region of the Federation of Nigeria, Kaduna, Government Printer of Northern Nigeria, 1956-58

Nzula. A.T. Force Labour in Colonial Africa, Great Britain, Redwood Burn Ltd. 1979

Oculi. O. Food and the African Revolution, Zaria, Gaskiya Corporation Limited. 1986

Perham. M. Lugard the Year of Authority, London, Nuffield College, 1960

Sir Charles Ok. The Making of Northern Nigeria, London, Frank Cass and Co. Ltd. 1965

Sartre. J. P. The Wretched of the Earth, Great Britain, Penguin Books, 1963

Tamuno. T. N. The Evolution of Nigerian State the Southern Phase, 1898-1914, Ibadan, Longman Nigeria. 2006

Tar. S. Law of Evidence in Nigeria, Port Hartcourt, Pearl Publishers. 2006

Yandaki. A. I. The State in Africa, Zaria, Gaskiya Corporation Limited, 2015

Yari. Labo. Muhammadu Dikko Emir of Katsina and his Time 1865-1944, Kaduna, Prime Printers and Publishers. 2007

NAK/1580/185/1915: Taxation Cases-Trial of in Native Courts Ruling.

Annual Report on Chiefs, n.d SNP 15/3 C. 28 NA

NAK/ W.237. Murder Trial Katsina N.A. Versus Kogo Abdullahi 2. Buzu 3. Zara

KAT.Prof/  1261.Vol: 1. Kogo District Note of

KATPROF/1122. Tsaskiya Record Book

KAT. Prof1/2/3. Ruma Touring Diary

KAT Prof. 1110. Chief Appointment and Annual Report of

KAT Prof 811. Kaura District Notes, 1930-43

KAT Prof 117. Katsina Division Annual Report 1932

KAT Prof. 1326. District Heads Appointment of Procedures to

KAT Prof 667. Katsina Emirate Appointment of Village Headman

NAK. 377. Colonial Repot Annual Northern Nigeria Report for 1901

NAK.3378 Colonial Report Annual Northern Nigeria Report for 1902/3

NAK. 3779 Colonial Report Annual Northern Nigeria Report for 1904/5






[1]. Iliyasu. U.A. “Challenge of the subject-Peasantry to the Colonial State: the Case of the Satiru Revolt of 1906”, being a paper presented to the department of History Umar Musa Yar’ Adua University Katsina 2013. 

[2]. A. M. Saulawa, :’ The significance of the concept of Mahdism in the Sokoto Caliphate in the 19th Century A.D.’ Degel: The Journal of FAISVOl. VIII, December,2007

[3]. Interview with Malam Amadu Mai Jama’a Dindiyal, age 90, dated: 13/06/2014

[4] Adeleye.R A. Mahdist triumph and British revenge in Northern Nigeria: Satiru 1906, Journal of the Historical society of Nigeria. Vol. 6. No. 2 (June 1972) Pp. 193-214

[5] Perham. M. Lugard the year of Authority, London, Frank Cass and Co, 1960

[6]NAK/ SNP/ No 1420, Kogo District File, 1905 

[7]NAK/ SNP/ No 1323, Kankara District File, 1906

[8] Muffett. M.J.M. Concerning the Brave Captains, London, Andre Deutsch Limited, 1964. Pp. 150-151  

[9] Sokoto provincial Report, 1906, op. cit. Pp. 5

[10]. NAK: KAT DIV: Quarterly Report, 1909  

[11] Adeleye.R. R. A. Mahdist triumph and British revenge in Northern Nigeria : Satiru 1906, Journal of Historical society of Nigeria. Vol. 6. No.2 (June 1972). Pp. 193-214  

[12]. Hull. R. W. ‘The Development of Administration in Katsina Emirate of Northern Nigeria1887-1944’, Colombia University, PhD thesis, 1968.

[13]. Ibid:

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ministry for Local Government Northern Region, Katsina Emirate, Katsina District succession in. 1/12/1968. File No: 400

[18] Ibid, Pp. 7

[19] Ork. S. C. The Making of Northern Nigeria, London, Frank Cass and Co. Ltd, 1965.Pp. 150

[20] Gray. A. Taxation in Northern NigeriaJournal of the Royal African Society. Vol. 5.No.19 (Apr. 1906) Pp. 311-324 

[21] Sir Charlse, O. The Making of Northern Nigeria, London, Frank Cass and Co Ltd, 1965. Pp. 150-168

[22] Ibid.

[23] Buell. R. L. The Native Problem in Africa, London, Frank Cass 1965. Page 675 

[24] Gray. A. ‘Taxation in Northern Nigeria’, ‘Journal of the African Society, Vol. 5. NO 19. APRIL, 19-6. Pp. 311- 324’, London, Oxford University Press.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Gray. A. Taxation in Northern Nigeria: Journal of the Historical Society. Vol. 5. No. 19( april, 1906) Pp. 311-324. Oxford University Press

[27] NAK/1813/ Katsina Division Annual Report, 1907

[28] Ibid

[29] NAK/1289/ Katsina Division Report on Taxation, 1908

[30] A.H. M. Kirk-Greene, The Making of Northern Nigeria, London, Frank Cass and Co Ltd. 1965

[31] Hull. R. W. ‘The Development of Administration in Katsina Northern Nigeria 1888-1944’, PhD Theses submitted to the Department of Political Science, University of Colombia 1964

[32] Ibid.

[33] A. H. M. Kirk-Greene. The Making of Northern Nigeria, London, Frank Cass and Co Ltd. 1965

[34] NAK. Zaria Province: Katsina Division, Report on Taxation, December 1908

[35] Ibid:

[36] Ibid:

[37] Ibid:

[38] NAK: Zaria Division: Katsina Division Report on Taxation, File No. 1289. December 1908

[39] NAK: KAT DIV: Quarterly Report 1909, File No 1836

[40] NAK: SNP: 10/1: Kano Provincial Annual Report, 1912

[41] NAK: KATSINA Divisional Correspondence Jacket No. 1836. Quarterly Report 1909

[42] Ibid. 

[43] NAK: Katsina Prof, Katsina Division Report on Taxation By H. R. Palmer, File No, 1289. December, 1908

[44] Ibid.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Taki, means ‘Step’ or ‘pace’ the expression arose in connection with Taxation because under the Taki system of assessment, farms were measured by pacing. See Kano Provincial Annual Report 1912 Kat prof/1,120/Pp. 64

[49] Ibid:

[50] NAK: KAT No 10886, Mashi District File N.D

[51] NAK: SNP 17, Katsina Province District Heads and other N. A. Officials, Appointment, Dismissal, Death etc. File No 280818

[52] Ibid.

[53]NAK: SNP 87. The significant of Danja,  Dabai,  Tandama,  Bakori and Guga in the British Administration of the District. ND

[54][54] Hull. R. W. ‘The Development Administration in Katsina Northern Nigeria 1888-1944’, PhD These submitted to the Department of Political Science University of Colombia. 1964

[55] Ibid. 

[56] NAK/SNP 117, Katsina Province: District Heads and other N.A Officials Appointment, Dismissals, and Death . 1914  

Post a Comment