How Indirect Rule was applied in Northern Nigeria

Frederick Lugard: the British High Commissioner for northern Nigeria from 1900AD spearheaded application of Indirect rule in the Northern Nigeria region as follows:




  • The protectorate was under the British High Commissioner answerable to the colonial officer in charge of Northern Nigeria. This High commissioner used the centralized system of government under the Emir‟s rule. For effective rule, the region was divided into smaller administrative units.
  • Nigeria was divided into provinces, each under a British Resident or Provincial Commissioner.
  • The Province was divided into Districts under British District officers.




  • Under the District officers were the Emirs, who retained reasonable power and responsibilities.
  • In each province, a court of appeal was created, presided over by a Resident.
  • The British maintained a military force to suppress rebellion.
  • Frederick Lugard used the central government of the Emirs to administer the region, assisted by A few European officers.
  • The Emirs gladly cooperated with Lugard, especially after realizing that the British did not seek to completely replace them.