Lamido Palace, Adamawa State

Lamido Palace History and The 11 Lamidos, One Emirate

Modibbo Adama was born in 1771 in Wuro Chekke to a Fulani clan leader, Ardo Hassana. At an early age, Adama began his Islamic learning under the teaching of his father so that by the age of eleven he had completed the study of the Qur'an.

His search for scholarship was extended to the far reaches of his home-place. For ten years, Adama studied under the great Islamic scholars, Shehu Muhammadu Tahir in Bagarmi, Mallam Kyari in Borno and also in Sokoto. By the time he came back, Adama became well known for his knowledge in Islamic studies. His learning and piety earned him the title, Modibbo, or learned one. Though the son of a clan leader, Modibbo Adama was not interested in political power; he was only keen on expanding his Islamic knowledge.

Let's go down memory lane

At the time the Sokoto jihad took off in 1804, the Upper Benue region was in a chaotic situation.2 The Fulbe and the surrounding ethnic groups, especially the Bata were always engaged in political hostilities and in clashes based on local interests such as tax and cattle raids. Modibbo Adama returned in 1805 to his family near Gurin and discovered that his father Ardo Hassana, was killed in one of the battles between the Fulbe and the Bata people. Modibbo Adama brought the news about the Islamic jihad in Sokoto being waged by the great scholar Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio, the Commander of the Faithful. He preached to his fellow Fulbe to channel their energy to the cause of Islam instead of fighting for local interests.

Based on this new direction, the Fulbe clan leaders- Ardo Gamawa of Rai, Ardo Njobdi of Bundang, Ardo Hamman Dandi of Banyo and Ardo Hamman Sambo of Tibati- sent a mission to Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio to endorse the launch of an Islamic jihad in the east (of Sokoto). They chose Modibbo Adama to lead the delegation because of his youth, learning and humility without “the intention of transforming him into the overall leader of the jihad.”3 Modibbo Adama was received well by Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio in Sokoto, seat of the Caliphate in 1806. In a letter of appointment to Modibbo Adama, Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio charged him thus: Now Adama, the times are difficult, since you tell that some of the Fulani did not come with you but they sent you to come and receive the flag of the jihad from me and take it back to them. I instruct you to tell them that it is you to whom I have given this jihad flag, and tell them whoever obeys you obeys me, and whoever swears fealty to you, it is exactly as if he had sworn fealty to me.


Then Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio gave him the mandate: Modibbo Adama, today I have made you leader from among the Fulbe people with whom you are, not because you are superior to them, but because of the trust they have in you. You are to understand my injunction and hold fast to it... I warn you to avoid oppression, wanton damage, spilling of blood without sanction of law, and nepotism, because if you indulge in partiality and discrimination, your authority would be broken.”Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio then conferred on Modibbo Adama the title of Lamido Fombina or Amirul Yemen, meaning Lord of the South. Modibbo Adama, however, never used the title of Lamido as a political leader, but preferred to be called Modibbo, the learned one.

The jihad in Adamawa started five years later than the other emirates in the Caliphate. In the next 40 years, Modibbo Adama embarked on building a completely new emirate government where none had existed before. The Emirate of Adamawa, first referred to as Fombina, derived its name from Modibbo Adama. Adamawa Emirate at its peak once covered 40,000 square miles from Marua and Madagali in the north to Ngaundere and Tibati in the south and from Lere and Rei Buba in the east to Mayo Lope in the west. It was the largest and most strategic emirate, south-east of the Sokoto Caliphate.The Upper Benue region was inhabited by diverse ethnic groups and heterogeneous independent tribal groups. It was in this complex context that Modibbo Adama consolidated his conquests, established an emirate and put in place an Islamic government as was done by other Fulbe leaders in the Sokoto Caliphate.Though itself a component part of the caliphate, Adamawa Emirate was in structure formed by more than thirty separate decentralized units fused into a centralized large emirate.

Modibbo Adama returned from Sokoto in 1806 and from his base in Gurin started to plan the jihad. He was instructed by Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio to wait and plan for three years. In 1809, Modibbo Adama launched his crusade by attacking the Bata towns of Pema, Turwa and Tepe. In 1810, Modibbo Adama sent a force under Ardo Hamman who routed Demsa, capital of the most powerful Bata states, near present day Garua and took over from the Bata chief, Yideng. In the 1820s, Modibbo Adama led campaigns into the Mandara country in person and defeated Bukama, Sultan of Mandara at Guidder. Consequently, he sacked and took over the western Mandara districts of Mubi, Moda, Michika and Uba. Ardo Dau of the Wolarbe clan rode into Kilba land but could not subdue these hill villages. However, the Ardo “obtained a hold over the Kilba, partly by force and partly by diplomacy. A modus vivendi was established which enabled Fulani and Kilba to trade at the border market of Bila Kilba, where many a public malefactor was disposed of by sale as a slave.” 5 At about the same time, Modibbo Adama gained Holma through a marriage alliance between one of the Fulbe leaders and the daughter of Dimetelli, the pagan chief.

In the early 1830s, Modibbo Adama extended his war campaign to the north and conquered Njirai-Bata districts of Malabu and Zummo. He later turned west and established a fort at Song. In the 1840s, Modibbo Adama was able to intensify his war efforts against the Bata and Verre tribes, especially after settling in his new capital, Yola in 1841. He also set up military posts against the Bata at Namtari, Beti Sebore and Nyibango.Even in his advanced age, Modibbo Adama continued his fight against the Bata, Marghi and Mandara territories in the north, while his generals forged ahead into the south and east by expanding into Laro, Koncha, Banyo, Tibati, Ngaundere, Rai and Chamba.Modibbo Adama died in 1848 in his bed at the age of 77. He had accomplished a mission which took 42 years of his life fighting for Islam and culminating in the establishment of an emirate left behind as a legacy. His worldly possessions at the time of his death were only his books and the Holy Qur'an, simple clothes, a mule he used on preaching tours and four wives. He led a humble life and did not bequeath any slaves or concubines because he did not keep any. Modibbo had a reputation for great learning and his people respected him as a scholar rather than a warrior. He was said to have undertaken about eleven pilgrimages to Sokoto and is fondly remembered till today for his piety.


Muhammadu Lauwal, 2nd Lamido Adamawa (1848-72)
Muhammadu Lauwal, the eldest son of Modibbo Adama, ascended the throne of Adamawa in 1848. He was selected as the most suitable leader to succeed Modibbo Adama. Among the eleven sons of the Modibbo, Hamidu and Lauwal were the most likely to succeed him. Lauwal had an edge over Hamidu as he was the first- born and had the support of the leading notables. Any likely tussle between the two brothers or between the sons of Modibbo Adama and the Ardo'en was averted with the use of the formula (La-U-Zu) said to be left by the Modibbo meaning (Lauwal, Umaru Sanda and Zubairu) should succeed him in that order. Modibbo Adama had thought out this formula in the context that being the first emir (Lamido), the tradition of succession has not been laid. The appointment of Muhammadu Lauwal was finally accepted and approved in Sokoto by Caliph Ali bn Bello in 1848.

Lamido Lauwal's 24-year reign saw the expansion and consolidation of the emirate, where already his father had subdued the numerous petty chieftaincies and in their place carved out sub-emirates. Therefore, Lamido Lauwal's first task was to conquer those districts in the emirate especially around Yola that were still resisting the authority of the Lamido. He concentrated his war campaign against the Fali of Mubi, the tribes of Lere and the Logone valley; and the Bata of Bagale hill. At the same time, he had to contend with the dissidence of some of his governors in the southern provinces . His reign brought tremendous glory to the political, territorial, administrative and socio-economic development of the emirate. Lamido Lauwal died in 1872 at the age of 75.

Umaru Sanda, 3rd Lamido Adamawa (1872-90)
Lamido Umaru Sanda succeeded the throne and embarked on a lot of administrative and judicial reforms. Even though he did not embark on any military expansion, the Lamido used diplomacy to settle disputes with the vassals. Lamido Sanda followed the advice of Islamic scholars, who discouraged going to war only if it was in the interest of Islam. This policy of non-aggression, however, backfired as the emirate government began to lose control of the sub-emirates who mistook his civility as a sign of weakness. Lamido Sanda was forced to change his policy when the situation worsened and started by personally invading Demsa and then later sending his armies to territories such as Gulak, Gereng, Gage and Gangang, though with little success.

In 18 years, Sanda's reign had weakened the structure of the whole emirate so that his capacity to rule and maintain control was put to question. The sub-emirates and vassals even rose up against his government, while leadership tussles within the districts and sub-emirates deepened the cracks. Lamido Sanda died in 1890.

Zubairu, 4th Lamido Adamawa (1890-1901)
Zubairu became the next Lamido Adamawa in 1890 after the demise of Lamido Sanda. He was the eldest of the surviving sons of Modibbo Adama. Lamido Zubairu's reign in the early years was burdened with the numerous problems of the failures of the past. He , therefore, embarked on a social crusade with a strict moral and social code. He launched military expeditions to win back the lost territories and the glories of the Adamawa Emirate. On 2 September 1901, war broke out between Lamido Zubairu and British forces over trading disputes. Lamido. Zubairu's forces were defeated and the Lamido fled Yola, his seat of government.

On 8 September 1901, the British appointed Bobbo Ahmadu, younger brother of Lamido Zubairu, as the new Lamido.

Bobbo Ahmadu, 5th Lamido Adamawa (1901-09)
Bobbo Ahmadu met an emirate system different from what his predecessors ruled. The British Empire was beginning to impose itself on the Emirates of Northern Nigeria. The Lamido was being told to rule in accordance with the laws of the Protectorate and “to obey the High Commissioner and be guided by the advice of the Resident.” It became increasingly difficult for Lamido Bobbo Ahmadu to govern his domain as he would have wanted because it was carved up and shared by the British and German powers after the 1907 International Boundary Convention. The other emirates of the Sokoto Caliphate, such as Nupe, Ilorin, Kano, Zaria and Bauchi, even after colonial invasion, however, remained as single units.

The British policies on territory control and slavery were resisted by the Lamido who attempted to resume slave raiding activities. Bobbo Ahmadu found it impossible to adopt a system alien to tradition. The British charged the Lamido for misrule. Lamido Bobbo Ahmadu was deposed in 1909 by the British and sent into exile to Lokoja.

Tafida Idris narrates that the King of England, Edward VI paid a visit to Kano and all the first class emirs and chiefs in Northern Nigeria went there for the reception of the visiting monarch. According to Tafida Idris, King Edward asked the emirs in a meeting if they had any requests to which the Lamido of Adamawa, Abba, requested that his father, Bobbo Ahmadu, be allowed to come back to Yola. The Lamido's wish was granted and the exiled Lamido returned to his motherland. He settled at his home at Yelwa quarters where he died in 1916.

Iya, 6th Lamido Adamawa (1909-10)
Iya, Lamido Sanda's son, reigned for eighteen months, the shortest reign in the history of the emirate. According to Tafida Idris, Lamido Iya was fed up with threats of deposition and exile by the colonial government (some believed to be cooked up by his interpreter). Consequently, Lamido Iya abdicated from the throne voluntarily. The Lamido was said to have ridden his horse and reported to the Resident, Mr. Boyle that he was abdicating. He later retired to Rumde near Jimeta.

Abba, 7th Lamido Adamawa (1910-24)
Lamido Abba ascended the throne of Adamawa and cooperated with the British colonialists thus bringing to an end the struggle for a lost power. He was a key player during the delicate campaign and the division of the Mandated Territory. During his reign, Adamawa Emirate got its first provincial school in 1920, a health centre and many other modern amenities in Yola. In 1922, Lamido Abba got back the former territories of his emirate when Germany was defeated in the First World War. He administered those areas as trust territories under the Mandate of the League of Nations. He was awarded the C.B.E (Commander of the British Empire). He died in 1924.

Muhammadu Bello Maigari, 8th Lamido Adamawa (1924-08)
Muhammadu Bello was popularly known as Lamido Maigari . Before his appointment as Lamido, he was the district head of Nassarawo. As Lamido, he worked closely with the German colonialists until their final disengagement from Adamawa Emirate. Lamido Maigari passed away after a protracted illness.

Muhammadu Musdafa, 9th Lamido Adamawa (1928-46)
Muhammadu Musdafa was a popular ruler who came on the throne at the young age of twenty-eight. He was a gentleman and well known for his kind-heartedness. “He was an enthusiastic horse owner and a keen polo player, and it is in these interests that the equine badge of the Native Authority Police has its origin; those constables who joined during Musdafa's reign are rightly proud of their badge of office.”

Ahmadu, 10th Lamido Adamawa (1946-53)
Ahmadu was the son of Lamido Maigari. He was described as “a tall, young, and handsome man, whose white robes added to his impressive dignity as he watched his people and received their homage with imperturbable eyes. His princely bearing was matched by his perfect courtesy. His eminent position did not detract from his kindness to his guests.” 9 Lamido Ahmadu's reign was full of rancor between him and the members of the emirate council. Finally, the acrimony led to the forced abdication of the Lamido in 1953 after seven years on the throne.

Aliyu Musdafa, 11th Lamido Adamawa (1953- To-Date)
Lamido Aliyu Musdafa was born in Yola in 1922. He received his education at Yola Elementary School and Yola Middle School (1936-1943). He started work at the Adamawa Native Authority in 1943 and was appointed the Chief of Police in Adamawa Province in 1945 with the title of Wali. After eight years of supervising the force, Aliyu Musdafa was selected as Lamido following the deposition of Lamido Ahmadu Maigari. His appointment took effect from July 26, 1953.

In the over five decades of his leadership, Lamido Aliyu Musdafa charted a course that spanned from colonial rule, through seven civilian administrations and thirteen military regimes at the regional or state levels (from Sir Ahmadu Bello to Vice Admiral Murtala Nyako). He has served under 13 Heads of State since independence (from Rt. Hon. Nnamdi Azikwe to President Umaru Yar' Adua. Within his tenure, the Lamido has witnessed several constitutional changes and political reforms. Most of all, his tenure has witnessed an era of peace and stability in the emirate.

Emergency Number: 112
Banks in Adamawa
Brief History of Adamawa
Business and Economy
General and Teaching Hospitals
Hotels and Guest Houses
Adamawa State Ministries Agencies and Parastatals
Police Stations
Popular Markets
Restaurants, Bars, Night Clubs
Shopping Malls
Traditional Rulers

Festivals in Adamawa State
Kwete Cultural Festival
Njuwa Fishing Festival
Phuki Festival
Vunon Cultural Festival

Koma Hills
Mandara Mountains
Lamurde Hot Spring
Sukur Cultural Landscape

Lamido Adamawa