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10 most powerful traditional rulers in Northern Nigeria



1. Sultan of Sokoto

Alhaji (Dr) Muhammadu Saad Abubakar III CFR

Born on 24, August 1956 in Sokoto Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar CFR is the 20th Sultan of Sokoto Caliphate in and the President-General of the Jama’atul Nasil Islam (JNI), and the National Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, (NSCIA). He was enthroned as the 20th Sultan of Sokoto in 2006 to succeed his brother, Muhammadu Maccido who died on ADC Airlines 53.

He was a General of the Nigerian Army and served as the Commanding Officer 241 Recce Battalion, Kaduna in 1993, from 1995 to 1999, he was ECOWAS military liaison officer and commanding officer, 231 Tank Battalion ( ECOMOG Operations) in Sierra Leone from 1999 to 2000. From 2003 to 2006, he served as Defence Attaché to Pakistan (also accredited for Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan).

2. Emir of Gwandu

Alhaji (Dr) Muhammadu Iliyas Bashar CFR

Muhammadu Iliyas Bashar CFR, popularly known as Muhammadu Jega, is a retired Major General and served as the military Governor of old Gongola State between March 1976 and July 1978 during the military regime of Olusegun Obasanjo and again between January 1984 and August 1985 during the military regime of Muhammadu Buhari. He was installed as the Emir of Gwadu on 5 June 2005, following the dethronement of Alhaji Mustapha Jokolo.


3. Shehu of Borno

Shehu Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai El-Kanemi CFR was born on 13 May 1957. He attended Government College Maiduguri for his secondary education, and in 1975 was admitted to the Staff Training Centre, Potiskum, Yobe State, where he obtained the Intermediate Local Government Certificate. He joined the Borno State Government in 1976. Subsequently he attended Kaduna Polytechnic (1978–1982) and  Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (1986) where he obtained an Advanced Diploma in Local Government Administration. He became Permanent Secretary in the Ministries of Finance (1993), Works and Housing and Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs (2008). El-Kanemi is married with three wives and has 15 children and was installed as the Shehu of Borno in 2009 following the demise of Shehu Mustapha Ibn Umar El-Kanemi.

4. Lamido of Adamawa

Muhammadu Barkindo Aliyu Musdafa CFR was born in February 1944. He attended Barewa College, Zaria and later proceeded to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where he obtained a Diploma in Law in 1969. Later, he attended North London Polytechnic, (1973–1975) and St. Clement University in the Turks Caicos Islands (2000-2002). He worked with the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Port Authority and the National Freight Company. As the eldest son of the Lamido Aliyu Musdafa, he was turbaned on 18 March 2010 as the LAmido of Adamawa.

5. Emir of Kano

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi CON was born on 31 July 1961 and he became the 14th Emir of Kano on 8 June 2014 after the death of Alhaji Ado Bayero who ruled for 51 years. He  was a banker and former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. He is the grandson of Muhammadu Sanusi I, the 11th Emir of Kano and finally adopted Muhammadu Sanusi II.


6. Emir of Zazzau

Shehu Idris CFR is the 18th Fulani Emir of Zazzau and the Chairman of Zazzau Emirate Council and Kaduna State Emirate Council. He became the 18th Emir of Zazzau on February 8, 1975 following the demise of Alhaji Muhammadu Aminu.

7. Emir of Ilorin

Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari CFR, is a retired Justice of the Court of Appeal and became the 11th Emir of Ilorin barely three months for him to become a Supreme Court Justice on November 11, 1995 following the demise of his uncle and 10th Emir of Ilorin, Malam Aliyu AbdulKadir. He was born 22nd April 1940 by the late 9th Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Zulkanaini MUhammadu Gambari. He has to his credit numerous laurels, awards and titles as a foremost traditional ruler in Nigeria.

8. Etsu Nupe

Yahaya Abubakar CFR was born on 12 September 1952 and attended Government College, Sokoto and later Commercial College, Kano (1967–1971), then enrolled in to the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna between 1973–1975. He succeeded his late uncle, Alhaji Umar Sanda Ndayako. Before his appointment in 2003 as the 13th Etsu Nupe, he served as the Director of Foreign Operations, Defence Headquarters Abuja, and retired as a Brigadier General in September 2003. He is the paramount ruler of all the Nupe speaking people in the world, Etsu Nupe: meaning, The King of Nupe.

9.  Ohinoyi Of Ebira land

Abdul Rahman Ado Ibrahim CFR , was appointed as the Ohinoyi, of Ebira land on 2 June 1997. He was born in 1929 and succeeded Muhamman Sanni Omolori who died in 1997. Ibrahim started work at the United African Company and rose quickly within the ranks to become manager of a Kingsway Stores in Kaduna. From Kingsway, he worked with the Amalgamated Tin Mines. After completing his Harvard MBA in 1959, he went into private business and set up Ado Ibrahim and Co and later Ado Ibrahim Properties and Investments in ownership of an oil lifting and license contract. He has served as the chairman of Kwara Breweries, Nigus Petroleum and Veritas Insurance.

10. Emir of Katsina

Abdulmumini Kabir Usman CFR, is the 50th emir of Katsina and chancellor of University of Ilorin. He succeeded his late father Muhammadu Kabir Usman in 2008, who also succeeded his father Usman Nagogo.

11. Attah of Igala

Michael Idakwo Ameh Oboni, is a ‘Priest King’. He is first and foremost, a priest and also a king. So he has this dual role as the Attah Igala. He owns the land from the extreme south of the kingdom to the extreme north of the kingdom; the same thing from the bank of the River Niger here to the eastern boundary towards the east. Apart from that, the Attah wields authority over the chiefs and the land resources therein.

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