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The Hausa land, before 1804, was made up of fourteen towns grouped into two. The first group of seven was called Hausa Bakwai while the other group of seven was balled Banza Bakwai. The Fulani took over the political leadership of the Hausa or Habe states in the early 19th century. The Jihad that preceded this occupation was seen as religious as well as political.

Othman Dan Fodio led the Fulani Jihad and took over the political leadership of the Hausa/Habe and established the Sokoto caliphate with outstanding centralized political system of government. He introduced a new system of selecting and appointing rulers described as Emirs to rule the caliphate. Each of the Emirs owed
allegiance to Dan Fodio and his two representatives at Sokoto and Gwandu. The Fulanis settled in Hausa land and intermarried with the Hausa people after conquering them and this was how the name Hausa-Fulani came about.

Political Administration

The Fulanis introduced centralized system of government after conquering the Hausa land. This gave rise to the Hausa- Fulani traditional or pre-colonial system being known as a centralized government. The Caliphate was divided into emirates and each emirate was headed by an Emir. He had the responsibility of making laws, enforcing them and maintaining peace and order in his emirate. He was expected to administer the emirate in accordance with the provisions of the Islamic and sharia laws. He was believed to have the divine right to rule.

However, each emir was assisted in the administration of the emirate by a number of advisers. These were:-

1. Sarkin Fada:- The spokesman of the Emir and organizer of palace workers.

2. Waziri:- The Prime Minister of the Emirate

3. Galadima:- The Administrator of the capital city.

4. Madawaki”- The commander and Head of the Emirate Army.

5. Magaji:- Government Treasurer in-charge of the government treasury.

6. Sarkin Dan Doka:- Inspector General of Police Force Called Dan Doka.

7. Sarkin Ruwa:- Minister in-charge of Water Resources.

8. Sarkin Pawa:- Head of Chairman of Butchers at the Abattoirs

9. Yari:- Chief Superintendent of Prisons in the Emirate

Judicial Administration

The judicial administration of Hausa-Fulani was based on the Islamic legal system called Sharia. Sharia courts were established through out the Emirates and each was headed by a trained Sharia Court Judge called Alkali. The Emir, despite this provision, remained the head who had the final say in deciding critical judgments.

The chief justice of the Sharia courts was called Grand Khadi. Village heads settled minor disputes in their villages but more serious and criminal cases were referred to the Emir for final and adequate settlement.

Official Religion

The Emir is the religious leader of his people,  this accounts for the great authority which was wielded by the Emirs and which made them such suitable rulers even under the British protectorate.

The official religion was Islam and Koran was used as the holy book where all the teachings of religion were contained. Mohammed was seen as the founder of the religion.

Some teachings that were contained in the Koran before the coming of the
colonial administration include:-

i. A good Moslem must fight a Jihad at least once in his life time. If such a person dies in the process he would go to paradise.

ii. It is mandatory for all Moslems to perform hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca the holy land at least once in the person’s life time.

iii. A good Moslem must not marry more than four wives.

iv. A good Moslem must abstain from drinking alcohol

v. A good Moslem must fast during Ramadan period.


Nigeria, before the advent of the European powers into the country, it had well organized institutions which some of them are still in place. For example, in the northern part of Nigeria, emirs are found in some parts of it.

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