Posted by / Friday 11 November 2016 / No comments

How Indirect Rule operated in Northern Nigeria

Indirect Rule is the system of government in which the traditional structures of the local people were employed in the administration of the British overseas territories in West Africa. The architect of the system, in West Africa, was Lord Lugard. He first experimented with the system in Northern Nigeria and when it was found to be successful, it was replicated   in other parts of British West Africa. 

The position of an Emir
The system made provision for the position of an Emir. There was already existing Emirs in Northern Nigeria who traditional had control over their Emirate. The Emirs were appointed according to the tradition of the people.

District and Village Heads
Directly under the Emir were District Heads and below the District Heads were the Village Heads. Policy direction emanated from the British colonial officials through the Emirs. The Emirs, in turn, relayed the information to the District Heads and then onward to the Village Heads. The Village Heads were therefore the direct enforcers of the British policies on the grounds.

Native Courts
The system maintained the Islamic judicial administration that was operating prior to the introduction of Indirect Rule. The difference was that, they made sure it conformed to good governance and public morality as pertained in Britain. Also where death sentence was handed down to a suspect, it was subject to the approval of the District Officer in charge of the area.

District Commissioner
There was the position of District Commissioner. He was a British political Officer who was resident in the colony. Though he was not permitted to exercise executive powers, he advised the chiefs so that they always conformed to British policies as was handed down to them.

Prison Service
The system made provision for the existence of a prison. Under this, the traditional chiefs were allowed to establish a prison where convicted criminals were kept until they had completed their full prison term or a pardon was given to them.

Court of Appeal
The system made provision for a Protectorate Court which was presided over by a resident British official. Anybody who was dissatisfied by the ruling handed down to him/her at the native court could appeal the ruling at this Protectorate Court.

The system also made provision for the collection of taxes from the people. Lord Lugard cancelled the traditional tax system and introduced a uniform tax assessment. After collecting the taxes, twenty five percent went to the British authority and the rest was kept in the native treasury.

1. How did the policy of Indirect Rule operate in Northern Nigeria?

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