By the end of this unit, you should be able to:
• discuss how Christianity was planted in the Northern Nigeria
• describe the problems encountered by the Missionaries in the 
planting of Christianity in the Northern Nigeria
• state how the problems were solved. 
3.1 Lord Lugard, the Governor of Niger Area
Sir Lord Lugard, the Governor- General of the Niger area 
made a policy that Christianity must not interfere with the 
Islamic religion in the Northern part of Nigeria. He made the 
policy in order to control the northern people.
However, he added a clause that whoever tried to plant 
Christianity in the area must seek for the permission of the 
Muslim leader in the area before embarking on it. In 1890, an 
attempt at establishing a Christian Village in the Northern Nigeria 
was made. This is because the Catholic Mission noticed that 
many slaves who were bought at Onitsha were taken beyond 
Lokoja, Iddah and were sold in the market at Inchitabu to the 
Igala people in the north. In order to stop the selling and buying 
of slaves in the Lokoja area, Father Lutz had established a 
Christian Village in the North. Besides, Lutz also aimed to 
continue the spread of the Church Missionary Society along the 
Benue River. For this reason, he planted a Catholic Mission to 
the area. He wrote thus;
“The struggle, with Crowther and the Protestants is 
therefore going to being. It’s a matter of not setting 
ourselves to be preceded in the great centers or along the 
Benue River where there is no mission at all so far” 
The Missionaries believed that they would be the first permanent 
Roman Catholic Missionaries in Northern Nigeria, excluding the 
abortive attempt made by a Missionary from Lyons to settle at 
Lokoja in 1884. However, Roman Catholic Mission stations 
had been established in the Northern part of Nigeria around 
seventeenth Century. In 1708, they had about a hundred Catholic 
members in the Kororofa where a Catholic priest built a sixty�ed hospital for treating the sick people in the area. In 1708, 
Father Carlo da Geneva, was appointed Prefect for Bornu 
Mission, but he declined to accept the offer.
Another reason for the spreading the of the gospel from Onitsha to 
the Northern part of Nigeria is the belief that the Hausa people 
would be attracted by the doctrine of Roman Catholic faith. 
They hoped that the Hausa people if converted to Christianity , 
they would be used for the conversion of many people in the 
area. However, in 1890, Goldie hindered the spread of Roman 
Catholic faith in the Northern Nigeria. He did this by writing to 
the Headquarters of the Holy Ghost Society in Paris telling them 
that he had disallowed the Church Missionary Society from 
converting Muslims in the Northern part of Nigeria and that 
he was not prepared to protect the Roman Catholic Missionaries 
that went beyond Lokoja in Kogi State to spread their faith. In 
the letter, he enclosed a copy of the Niger Territories public 
notice that was written in October 1889 forbidding Christian 
Missionaries to work in Muslim areas which is mainly the 
Northern parts of Nigeria. However, the home based Missionaries
replied him that Hausa Muslims could be converted into Christianity 
without much problem. Lutz was warned by Goldie not to try to 
continue spreading Christianity beyond Lokoja area. If he does, 
then, his Mission Station at Onitsha Wharf which belong to the 
Royal Niger Company would be taken over by the government. 
However, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the prospect 
of obtaining a foothold in the North for the purposes of 
evangelization looked bleak.

3.2 The Role of Lord Lugard in the Northern Nigeria

In 1900, Sir Lord Lugard, the Governor- General for the Niger area, 
tolerated the presence of Christian missions in the Northern part of 
Nigeria in order for Missionaries to establish Schools to teach the 
converts to read and know the Scriptures and to attract non- Christians 
to Schools and through this way, the Church was introduced to them. 
However, a serious disaster occurred in the Hausa land mission of the 
Church Missionary Society. For that reason, Lugard decided to modify 
his views about the utility of Christian Missions in the Northern Nigeria. 
He believed that if the Missions that were established by the Church 
Missionary Society in the North were really practicing what they 
preached and taught, their efforts would be a great asset to his 
government in that part of Nigeria.
In 1901, the Acting High Commissioner, Wallace, made a pledge to the 
Emir which read in part thus:
I do hereby in the name of His majesty promise you protection and I do 
guarantee that no interference by Government shall be made in your 
chosen form of religion, so long as the same does not involve acts 
contrary to the laws of humanity and oppression to your people.
On the other hand, the Missionaries in Eastern Nigeria were aware of 
the British Government’s policy of ‘non-interference’ in the religion of 
the Northern Nigeria and declared that ‘this policy in Northern Nigeria 
will be our greatest obstacle. Lugard’s protection of the Muslims, 
‘with the maxim gun’ as they put it, along with the establishment of 
Muslim Chiefs through out the Northern Nigeria was the ‘greatest evil 
However, the missionaries believed that their religion would one day 
penetrate into Northern Nigeria. This is because they realized that one of 
the Government’s most obvious problems was the question of the slave 
children freed under the slavery proclamation of 1900. The British 
government having freed the children was responsible for them. To 
settle them in families as wards would have simply turned them into 
domestic slaves.
Besides, the Public Works Department could absorb a few as 
Lugard planned a freed slaves Home where the children would receive a 
secular education. Sir Lord Lugard wrote:
I see no reason why religion be it of one sort or another should be forced 
upon the liberated slaves. I see much in it to exasperate the 
Mohammedan master who considers himself robbed of his property that 
we may further encouraged religious propaganda that is hostile to his 
Lugard was rather perplexed about the whole question of slavery in the 
Northern Nigeria and was quite uncertain as to whether the proclamation 
forbidding it was a good thing. This proclamation could lead to 
economic chaos and rebellion since the Northern Nigeria economy was 
a subsistence one and with immense tracts of land there was no excess 
of labour. Slavery he believed, was built into the Hausa system. Some of 
the Missionaries in the East had advanced the same arguments and 
demanded the ending of the village of liberty or Christian village system 
of evangelization which was aimed at freeing and coverting the slaves. 
The proclamation against slavery had been issued and Lugard was left 
with the problem. By 1905, according to a Colonial Office Report, about 
3,070 slaves had been liberated, and it was added; ‘these slave returns 
do not profess to be a complete record.
Lugard was beginning to realize that ‘the care of children is not 
For example, One hundred children in the care of a European 
Supervisor, two European women helpers and two assistant African 
teachers cost one thousand four hundred pounds a year. Lugard knew 
that his administration in Nigeria dependent on an imperial grant-in-aid 
of the colonial masters. Therefore, the amount been sent to him by them 
to use in the area was inadequate to care for the liberated slaves. He 
pointed it out that he needed private philanthropy in the welfare of the 
people of Niger Area. (Kalu, O.U, 1976). However, Lugard was 
replaced by Lejeune as the Governor of the Niger Area by the Colonial 
masters. He requested for philanthropists to come to his aid in caring for 
the freed slave children in the Northern Nigeria. 

The Misionaries’ Response to Lejeune’s Request

As private philanthropists who happened to be missionaries heard of the 
request, they responded and sent the Missionaries to help in caring for 
the liberated slaves, especially the children. They used the opportunity 
to plant Christianity in the Northern Nigeria. The Missionaries 
established Primary Schools in Dekina in Kogi State. They also built a 
Mission station in the area. In 1903, the Catholic Church had 1,100 
children in seventeen Primary Schools in Northern Nigeria. The 
Catholic Mission destroyed the economy of the Islamic adherents in the 
Northern Nigeria. That is, slavery business which they were engaged in 
has been discouraged by Christians. The Missionaries taught moral 
instruction in the villages of liberty rather than the Catholic Creed.

3.4 The Burning of Dekina Mision Station by the Muslim

In 1904, the Dekina Mission station was set on fire by the Muslims in 
order to prevent the spreading of Christianity in the area by 
Missionaries. In 1905, another riot took place in Dekina. It was between 
the Christians and the Muslims. The Muslims wanted Christianity to be 
eradicated in the area. While the Christians insisted in the spreading of 
Christianity on the area.
About ten British Soldiers lost their lives under Major Merrick in 
another riot that took place in the same area after the burning of the 
Mission Station at Dekina by the natives who were Muslims. However, 
in December, 1905, the Missionaries withdrew from Dekina area, but, 
they left the Christian villages which they had established in the area. 

Account for the role of Sir Lord Lugard in regards to religion in 
Northern Nigeria around 1900 to 1905.

You are now concluding the study of the Roman Catholic Mission in 
Nigeria in the early 1890s to 1905 in this unit. The Missionaries were 
able to stop human sacrifice, slavery and the worship of ancestral gods 
in the Eastern Nigeria through Christianity. They also established 
Christian villages in the area.
Many Primary Schools were also established to train children in the 
Eastern and Northern Nigeria. The Missionaries also attempted to 
establish mission stations in the Northern parts of Nigeria.
However, they were confronted with many obstacles from the Muslims 
in the Northern area. For this reason, they had little achievements in the 
Northern Nigeria.

In this unit, you have studied the following facts:
Attempts were made by the Missionaries to establish Mission stations in 
the Northern Nigeria. The policy of Sir Lord Lugard hindered the spread 
of Christianity in the Northern Nigeria. The Missionaries faced 
hostilities from the Northerners. For example, their mission stations 
were burnt down in Dekina. However, they were able to establish a 
Mission station at Dekina where freed slaves were cared for by them in 

1.bState the roles of the Missionaries in the planting of Christianity in 
the Northern parts of Nigeria.
2.bNarrate the obstacles that confronted the Catholic missionaries in the 
Northern Nigeria between 1900 to 1905.
Kalu, O.U. (1980).The History of Christianity in West Africa. Essays 
Lectures, London: Longman. 
Ade Ajayi, J.F. (197). Christian Missions in Nigeria 1841-1891. The 
Making of a New Elite, Longman.
E.P. Crampton, (1976).Christianity in Northern Nigeria, Second 
Edition, Zaria: Gaskiya Corporation.

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