Abdur Rahman Atiku

Abdur Rahman Atiku[1] sometimes known as, Abdu or Abd al-Rahman bin Atiku was Sultan of Sokoto from 1891 to 1902. In earlier vacancies, he had been a contender from the house of Atiku, but the house had been passed over three times since the death of Ahmadu Rufai in 1873. Abubakar Na Rabah, Mu'azu and Umaru bin Ali subsequent Sultans after Rufai were from the house of Muhammed Bello.[2]


Following the death of Umaru bin Ali while he was on campaign in Kaura Namoda, an emergency meeting was called by the Waziri because as long as the enemy were near, it was imperative for the army to have a leader.[3] During the meeting, Abdur Rahman, the son of Abu Bakr Atiku was chosen as Sultan. He was a brother of both Ahmadu Atiku and Umar Nagwamatse and a nephew of Muhammadu Maiturare. Prior to becoming Sultan, he held the title of Bunu in charge of the village of Dambiso, north of Wurno.

Abdur Rahman was unpopular during his reign[4] and at the time the Sokoto empire was being pulled into the main currents of World events, his choice was calamitous.[5] He seemed to have taken offence easily and known to be harsh and uncompromising. His reign started with a poor handling of a dispute over a small town in Zamfara, a region in which Sokoto Sultans arbitrated. The dispute was between the chief (Sarkin) of Mafara and the Sarkin Burmi. When Abdur Rahman allocated a disputed town to Burmi, Sarkin Mafara rejected the arbitration and Abdur Rahman deposed him.[6] The dispute led to an open revolt by the Chief of Mafara and the revolt led to other uprisings in some Zamfara towns such as Anka. Mafara lost in the revolt but the terms of surrender were stiff, all conquered lands to be returned and an indemnity of 1,000 slaves to be given up.

Abdur Rahman was also faced with the issue of the Kebbawa, prior to the start of his reign, Sokoto had mounted two unsuccessful expedition against Argungu. To deal with the issue, he summoned Eastern emirs to bring half of their troops; though the Emirs of Katsina and Bauchi responded and also came in person, only Tukur, the son of the Emir of Kano and also the Galadima of Kano was interested in a victory. The expedition turned out to be disastrous, as the larger Sokoto army were overwhelmed by the enemy and at the end they were in flight being pursued by the Kebbi cavalry.[2]

Kano Civil War

Abdur Rahman's decision to appoint Tukur as Emir of Kano after the death of his father Muhammed Bello led to a Civil War in Kano. Upon the death of Bello, the major claimants to the throne were Yusuf from the branch of Abdullahi Maje Karofi in the house of Dabo and Tukur from the Bello branch. Yusuf's following in Kano was large and his family had hoped after the death of their Uncle, Muhammed Bello, it would be the turn of the Abdullahi clan to succeed the throne. Yusuf was also the favorite of the Kano Emirate electors. However, against the wishes of his vizier and the Kano electors, Abdur Rahman appointed Tukur as Emir. Upon Tukur's appointment, Yusuf and his followers moved out of Kano. He decided to wage a revolt against Tukur and subsequently sought help from states such as Gumel, Ningi and Damagaram. Yusuf and his followers then waged war on Kano. The first attack was unsuccessful and the rebels retreated south-east of Kano. During this period, Yusuf appointed Aliyu Babba as his successor, he died before a new attack was launched. A second attack was launched by Aliyu Baba, Tukur's troops came out of the walled city in an open battle and but were outnumbered. The city was overran and it was then that Abdur Rahman sent help to aid Tukur in his flight from Kano and to re-organize but most of his requests to other emirs were met with lukewarm attitude and Tukur was killed.


  1. Johnston (1967). The Fulani Empire of Sokoto. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2015-08-17.
  2. 1 2 Johnston
  3. Last, Murray. (1967). The Sokoto Caliphate. New York: Humanities Press. p. 127
  4. Last Murray. p. 129
  5. Jonhston
  6. Last Murray. p. 130
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